Did you know that Share the Table started with the idea of serving a free community meal? Executive Director Dawn Ellis says that she had “been talking with a friend about doing a free community meal” when God put it on her heart to just go ahead and do it.
Share the Table was launched with that first meal. Then, after partnering with the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, Ellis realized that the extra food that they put out at the community meal was going quickly as individuals were picking it up to take home. Although everyone appreciated the weekly meal, the need for a food pantry also quickly became apparent.
Today, the weekly community meal is served on Sundays from 4:30pm to 6:00pm. It is currently a “to go” meal as there is no longer room at Share the Table’s facility to host sit-down dinners. The organization has outgrown the location and is raising funds to be able to move to a much larger building.
When that move happens, there will be a room available for all those who participate in the community meal to sit, enjoy their food, and get to know others. The new facility and the new dining area will help Share the Table fulfill its ongoing mission of responding to God’s call to nourish our community by providing food where there is hunger, fellowship where there is loneliness, and education to end the cycle of food insecurity.
There are no eligibility requirements for the community meal, and no one is turned away. About 15 people participated in the early days and the organization has served as many as 80 meals at one time. Current numbers are between 60 and 75 individuals.
Most of the time, Ellis is the cook for Share the Table’s weekly meal, with one volunteer serving the food. She explains that “over the years youth groups, different church members, and local businesses have supplied the meals or helped cook. Space issues have limited these efforts. Currently the Kiwanis Club of Topsail Island cooks a meal every other month.”
Space issues and the pandemic have limited the ability for groups to participate and for individuals to sit and enjoy that much-needed fellowship with their meal. Ellis adds that “different groups from Faith Harbor UMC will start doing a monthly meal starting in September. Our goal is that in the new facility we will have many different volunteer groups preparing the meals.”
The community meal continues to be one of the primary services provided by Share the Table to help our neighbors in need. Our other programs include the food pantry and the school backpack program. When we move to our new, larger facility, we are excited to launch several educational programs designed to help individuals in the community learn more about budgeting, food shopping, and preparing healthy, nutritional meals.
To support Share the Table’s move to this much-needed new facility, please consider donating to our Capital Campaign. As always, thank you for being a Hunger Hero!