FARMINGTON — The youth group of Old South First Congregational Church at 227 Main Street in Farmington has temporarily suspended their weekly free dinners in response to rising cases of COVID-19 in Franklin County.

The Old South First Congregational Church youth group has temporarily suspended Supper Club in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Franklin County. The weekly free supper was distributed Tuesday nights from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Holman Mission House on Main Street in Farmington. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

“To be clear, we think that our project has been safe for both the youth group participants and our patrons,” Director of Children and Youth Ministries Jodie Gunther said in an email.

“We insist, for example, that all patrons wear masks and stay 6 feet apart while ordering and picking up their meals. It’s just that we recognize we should do our part to be responsive to the Maine CDC’s requests for people to limit their interactions with one another at this time,” she said.

Franklin County has been designated as a yellow zone by Maine’s Department of Education since Nov. 6, and Regional School Unit 9 has been dealing with multiple school closures this month as COVID-19 cases arise in the district community.

The youth group established its Tuesday night supper club in May, offering two to three homemade entrée options each week such as a pulled pork stew or chicken pot pie. People could choose three sides often ranging from dinner rolls to watermelon to coleslaw and for dessert, brownies were always an option.

Anyone could partake in the supper club merely by showing up from 5 to 6 p.m. at the take-out window on the wrap around porch of the Holman Mission House next to Old South First Congregational Church.

“We know that some members of our community have relied on the Supper Club for a hot, nutritious, home-cooked meal,” Gunther said. “Suspending the project was not an easy decision for us.”

The free dinner gained a consistent following and Gunther said that by October, the club was serving over 130 dinners every week. The group developed a newsletter that outlined the week’s menu and established an online ordering system to improve efficiency and make pick-up even more contactless.

The Supper Club was established by Old South First Congregational Church’s youth group in May, serving free dinner on Tuesdays to anyone who showed up to Holman Mission House on Main Street in Farmington. By October, the youth group was serving over 130 dinners on a weekly basis. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

“We have more than 100 patrons who have been placing their dinner orders online each week,” Gunther said.

During Supper Club’s temporary suspension, Gunther said they’re looking into other locations such as the Old South First Congregational Church’s vestry which would make the free dinner service more viable in the wintertime.

“I think that will enable us to set up pick-up tables that our patrons will find easier to access during the winter months,” Gunther said.

The group is also taking this time to investigate new sources for ingredients to minimize food costs and hopes to relaunch the Supper Club by mid-December or early January.

“The youth group is extremely committed to re-opening the Supper Club as soon as possible,” Gunther said.

 

 

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