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Local church's free meals for the hungry still going

Below is the article published in this past weekend's edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

More than a decade ago, a local congregation started offering a free hot meal, no questions asked, to anyone in the community who was hungry.


That meal continues to be available at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 524 Washington Ave., Grand Haven, on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. It is still known as “Loving Spoonfuls,” but it has also changed a lot from those early days.


“When the meal began, members of the church would often make something at home and bring it to serve to whoever came,” explained Cindi Sanders, the parish administrator of St. John’s and the coordinator of the Loving Spoonfuls Ministry, “However, when the need grew, we had to adapt.”


The church became a publicly licensed kitchen, with the meals coordinated by licensed and trained kitchen managers. Over the years, the church has done several upgrades to the kitchen to enable it to continue to serve a healthy and hot meal to as many as 50 people. Several area organizations have supported it through grants and volunteers.


The meal is not, however, just for people who may be experiencing homelessness.


“Though there are absolutely people experiencing homelessness here in Grand Haven, this meal is truly for anyone who needs help getting a healthy hot meal once or twice a week,” said the Rev. Dr. Jared Cramer, the rector at St. John’s. “Those who come to the meal are often those who find themselves on the edges financially and getting one or two hot meals for free takes some of the financial strain off.”


The congregation also has a “Good News Garden” which provides fresh produce to use in the meals. The church also gives the harvest from the garden away for free to those who attend the meal.


“For many people, particularly with inflation, fresh produce has become harder to afford,” Sanders said. “Our Good News Garden Team works very hard to offer an abundance of healthy, fresh, produce both to Loving Spoonfuls guests and to those who come to our food pantry during the week.”


If you are experiencing hunger or food insecurity and having trouble affording meals, the church wants area residents to know they are here to help. And if you’d like to help volunteer with the meal, you can contact Sanders at csanders@sjegh.com.


St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They worship in English at 8:30 and 10 a.m. Sundays, and in Spanish at 11:45 a.m. Their English service is also streamed on their YouTube page (www.youtube.com/ SJEGrandHaven). Additional information can be found at St. Johns website at www.sjegh.com or by calling the Parish Office at 616-842-6260.

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