Members of the Presbyterian Church of Washington are launching a free Weekend Meals on Wheels program for people in need living in Washington.

The first meals are scheduled to be delivered Saturday, Aug. 26. They will be prepared that morning by members of the church in its commercial kitchen and delivered by noon.

The first meal will include mostaccioli, salad and cookies. There will be no charge for the meal or for the delivery.

The program is intended for people of any age who are in need due to transportation, financial or health issues, said the Rev. Pat Gruber, pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Washington.

The idea for the Presbyterian Church members to begin this new meals ministry came up as a way to make better use of the church’s commercial kitchen facility. The Rev. Gruber researched the need for such a ministry by talking with the Washington Senior Center about its Meals on Wheels program and with organizers of The Harvest Table, a free weekly community meal served Saturday evenings at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Downtown Washington.

“We have a wonderful kitchen here at the church, and we’ve always thought it would be nice to do some ministry out of the kitchen, to use one of our strengths,” said the Rev. Gruber. “We had thought of hosting a community meal, much like The Harvest Table, but we don’t have a good location for that. St. Peter’s is nice and centrally located. People can walk there easily. We are not that.

“So we thought, maybe instead of expecting people to come here, we can send the food out. And I kind of like the theology of that too. God doesn’t call us to invite people into church, necessarily. God calls us to go out into the community to feed people where they are,” he said.

After speaking with the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging (MEAAA), which oversees the Washington Senior Center, the Rev. Gruber said the consensus is that a Weekend Meals on Wheels program that provides free meals is needed.

However, the response to the program for the Aug. 26 delivery will help church members determine if that is true or not.

“If we find that it’s not really needed, then we will concentrate on something else,” said the Rev. Gruber.

Call to Apply

People who would like to sign up for the free Weekend Meals on Wheels program need to call the church at 636-239-3178 and provide their name and contact information and a few other details.

Someone will call them back to talk more about their needs, said the Rev. Gruber.

People who already are receiving services from agencies like Loving Hearts or The Harvest Table or who can provide similar references are encouraged to apply.

The delivery area, at least initially, will be limited to the Washington city limits, although people who live near the Presbyterian Church of Washington on the east end of town may also be eligible.

“We would be willing to go a little further east,” said the Rev. Gruber, “but it will depend on how much interest is expressed, what the demand is.”

As of now, the church has only committed to delivering meals Aug. 26, but if that first date is successful, plans are to offer the Weekend Meals on Wheels once a month, likely the last Saturday.

“If that goes well, what we would really love to be able to do is offer it every week, but to be able to do that, we would need to start partnering with other congregations and other service agencies,” said the Rev. Gruber. “Then we would open our kitchen to those other groups to take a Saturday each month, similar to how The Harvest Table operates.”

He has talked talked with Karen Dawson with The Harvest Table about recipes and meal ideas, but the plan is for each meal to include an entree, side and dessert.

For more information or to begin the application process, call 636-239-3178.