STRONG — This first week of free luncheons provided for the community are off to a good start, said organizer Michael Senecal, better known as Pastor Mike.

Community Table, a nonprofit program of volunteers who plan to provide meals the last full week of every month except July and August, began serving Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will continue through Friday at the Forster Memorial Building.

The meals are open to everyone; a poster on the door says, “All we ask is that you bring your appetite.”

On Wednesday, head cooks Gail Penney of Strong stirred fish chowder and Dorre White of Phillips made salads while volunteers helped prepare other ingredients for the meatloaf dinner.

The luncheons were previously served for five months at the Community Center in Phillips where people met to visit and eat, Senecal said.

“The meals are provided to bring the community together through food and fun,” according to the program’s poster.

Along with decorated dining tables, a collection of stuffed animals and toys and food items line the wall of the hall. Signs posted above the tables offer breakfast bars and cereal, other food items and toys for free.

“We’ve had some really young toddlers come for lunch this week,” Senecal said.

He lives in Strong but pastors an independent church in Unity. He saw a need to continue the meals and socialization after losing use of the center in Phillips. The Strong Board of Selectmen rallied behind his idea and allowed Community Table to use the Forster building.

It takes time to build a following for the meals, but Senecal’s church in Unity operates a similar meal site called the Open Door. It started with small numbers but has grown, he said. The volunteers make it all possible.

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