Landrum United Methodist Community Meal celebrates its 20th anniversary 

Published 1:24 pm Monday, October 30, 2023

LANDRUM—Landrum United Methodist Church celebrated the 20th anniversary of its community meal on Saturday, October 28. This act of service has become a church tradition, taking place every fourth Saturday of the month. The church served 136,800 meals and counting to the local area. 

In 2003, the church’s administrative council was issued a challenge to figure out an effective way to reach out to the local area. Nancy Surface, who enjoyed cooking, suggested fixing a community meal. 

For the first meal, they overprepared a little bit, making enough for 200 but only feeding 50. Now, the meal is a well-oiled machine led by the volunteers within the church’s congregation. First, a group comes in on Friday to do the prep work and bake cookies. Then, on Saturday at noon, a second group comes in and prepares and packages the meals.

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Over the years, the tradition has grown, serving 900 plus meals at its peak with everyone eating together in the Family Life Center. After the pandemic, the church has shifted to take-out only and is currently serving 425 meals each month, 125 of which are delivered. They’ve also begun giving out food boxes to some attendees. The boxes include staples such as cereal, paper products and more.

“The meal is a wonderful way for the church to reach out and teach the next generation about volunteering and giving,” says Reverend Nancy Reed. “We began doing about 40 or 50 food boxes, and over the last two years, that number has doubled because of need.”

This Saturday, the church was preparing over 400 burgers along with potato salad and baked beans. Surprisingly, the community meal has never been a part of the church budget and is funded completely by donations. 

Grill master Glenn Downey, who converted his smoker to cook the burgers, pointed out there were no signup sheets or delegation. 

“God finds people to do the jobs that need to be done,” said Downey.

Nancy and Don Surface, like many in the congregation, have been volunteering for the entire time or close to it, and the church recently held a luncheon to celebrate both the milestone and the volunteers. 

“Over the last two decades, when we thought a month may be our last one, somehow the funds were there when we needed them,” says Nancy Surface. “We even had one gentleman, not a church member in Asheville, donate monthly for the last 20 years to the meal. And we finally met him at our recent 20th-anniversary luncheon.”

Surface describes their mission simply, saying, “If there is a need, we want to feed them.”

The Landrum Community Meal takes place every fourth Saturday, with meal pick-up from 3-5 p.m. For those looking to donate or learn more, you can contact the church through landrummc.net or by phone.