Area church feeds community through ‘Lunch on Us’ program

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Donna Rose, a member of the First Presbyterian Church, spoke to the Natchitoches Kiwanis Club at its meeting July 19 about the church’s “Lunch on Us” program.

It all starts about 6 years ago when the church went through a self-examination process and decided it needed to look for new ways to be a church. The first step was to get outside of the building and into the community.

After exploring several ideas, the congregation decided to focus on the command from Jesus to “feed my sheep.” So began “Lunch on Us” which runs on Wednesdays at 11:30 am, rain or shine. Free sack lunches and water are distributed outside the church building on Bienville Street, just off South Drive.

People come by car, bicycle and on foot. There are no restrictions on who may receive a lunch. Everyone is welcomed. Some are workers in the area, some are elderly on a fixed income, some are busy parents or caregivers with small children, and occasionally travelers passing through. Many who come for lunch are among the “working poor,” those who work for minimum pay or less. Louisiana in general, and especially Natchitoches, has a large percentage of citizens who are unable to meet basic needs each month. Providing a sack lunch means that a person will not go hungry on that day.

The lunch is simple: a meat and cheese sandwich, chips, baby carrots, fruit, cookies and water. But, as word of mouth spread, 25-30 bags gradually became over 100 bags every week.

The church’s mission statement ends with, “led by the Holy Spirit to serve in this place in this time.” Rose said they don’t know how long they will be able to continue their “Lunch on Us” program as the demands for financial support and manpower grow. But for this time right now, in this place of Natchitoches, they will continue to distribute sack lunch each Wednesday.

To learn more about how you can help in any way, or if you have any information about possible grant opportunities, contact the church at 318-352-3016.