DIXFIELD — The Dixfield Seventh-Day Adventist Church held its monthly community dinner Monday evening, offering a variety of home-cooked meals to any citizens who wished to attend.
The church holds the community dinner on the last Monday of every month from 4 to 5:30 p.m, according to church member Cindy Schlager. Schlager said that she and a friend thought up the idea three years ago.
“Our purpose was to have a place where people in the community could come and have a free meal,” Schlager said. “Originally, it was supposed to be more like a food pantry, but we learned the town already had a pantry. Right now, it's similar to a soup kitchen.”
Schlager said that a mixture of church members and people from the community have volunteered to help cook the food, explaining that some people have helped every month since the event began, while others will come in and help when they have a chance.
“We have five people from a church in Rumford to help us for today's dinner,” Schlager said.
Schlager said that citizens from towns other than Dixfield are more than welcome to attend, adding that the church has seen citizens of Weld, Carthage, Peru and Roxbury show up.
In addition to the dinner, the church also offers another option for those who attend: a variety of different foods for families in need to take from.
“One thing we do is purchase food from Good Shepherd Food-Bank and offer it for those in need,” Schlager said. “People will come in, we'll offer them a plastic bag and they take whatever food they might need for home. We're impressed that so far, we haven't had to worry about people taking more than they should.”
The church also offers a “take-out” program, where the food is delivered to families who are unable to attend the dinner at the church.
Schlager said that the church also makes “Thanksgiving baskets” for certain families.
“We arrange a variety of food inside of a basket and bring them to families who may have need of them,” Schlager said. “This year, we ended up bringing 58 Thanksgiving baskets to different families. We also had an anonymous donor who paid for every single turkey.”
While the community dinner is only held once a month at Dixfield Seventh-Day Adventist, Schlager hopes that the number of dinners will increase in the future.
“We're eventually dreaming of a day when there's more than one Monday in a month where we host a dinner,” Schlager said, “but right now, this is how we're able to get enough people to volunteer.”
Schlager also hopes that in the future, the church can add more community events to its schedule.
“We want to be able to host a healthy eating class here,” Schlager said. “We try and promote healthy eating at the community dinner by offering fruits and vegetables. A healthy eating class would be a great way to spread the word.”
Schlager also said that the church will be moving its community dinner to a new building at 58 Pine St. sometime in the near future.