Since the 1980s, Lebanon County Christian Ministries (LCCM) has served a daily free noon meal to community members who are in need.
LCCM is a nonprofit that aims to assist and support those who are without housing, food, or clothing within the Lebanon County community. It operates a clothing bank, food bank, food pantry, and emergency shelter to help meet these basic needs.
LCCM’s mission reads, “Lebanon County Christian Ministries compassionately communicates God’s love to the people of Lebanon County by serving their immediate felt needs, empowering their personal sustainability and sharing the heart of God with them.”
Anywhere from 75 to 130 free noon meals were served on a daily basis prior to the COVID-19 era. Currently, about 5,000 meals are given out each month. On weekdays there are typically over 200 guests and on the weekends around 170 per day.
“There are many factors that continue to play into food insecurity in our community,” Bryan Smith, LCCM’s Executive Director, said. “We do anticipate the guest numbers will be similar, not drop, and may increase as the governmental assistance runs out or normalizes to pre-covid numbers.”
The free lunch begins at noon and finishes around 1 p.m. There are no qualifications required to receive a meal and all are welcome. All noon meals will be offered for take-out only until further notice.
“The meals are planned with two things in mind,” Smith said. “The first is how many volunteers are here to prepare the meal. It must be a meal that can be prepared in a two-hour time frame for over 200 guests. The meal is also planned to provide high calories, high protein and high carbs to ensure solid nutrition for individuals who may only have one meal a day.”
Several examples of the meals are chicken pot pie, corn, a side of fruit, a bottle of water and a treat in the bag for the guests. Another lighter summer meal may include taco salad, chips, fruit and a bottle of water.
“The noon meal is one of my favorite programs because of being able to get to know the guests on a personal level,” Smith said. “For us it’s been different because we took a lot of opportunities to talk to our guests, so the transition to the takeout setting takes a lot out of the meaning of volunteering and working with the guests.”
Volunteers are always needed at the free noon meal. Individuals, churches and groups may volunteer and can sign up to serve on a regular basis. If interested, contact Lesvi Marrero at (717) 272 4400 ext. 220 or email her at Lesvi@lccm.us.
A minimum of four volunteers are needed per meal, but ideally between six and eight volunteers. In 2019-2020, volunteers put in 21,012 hours at the free noon meal.
“One of the messages we want to make sure to say is thank you to the volunteers,” Smith said. “We don’t take this for granted. We appreciate that and issue a big thank you.”
The following image contains LCCM’s current donations wish list. Non-perishable foods are always welcome.
Donations can be dropped off at LCCM, 250 S. 7th St, Lebanon. Drop off hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
Financial donations can also be made to LCCM to help with resources to maintain the multiple programs they provide. For example, housing over 30 homeless guests in a hotel.
“This is being achieved through the use of a hotel to ensure a non-congregate setting is provided to our guests and we work to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Smith said.
Additional meals will be provided at the end of this month and during the holidays. This is the second year LCCM is partnering with Making a Difference of Lebanon Pa. for the Christmas meal. Making A Difference handles everything for the meal and it will be takeout only. The meal will begin around noon until 1:30 p.m. There will also be a Christmas Eve meal issued by Lebanon Rescue Mission.
LCCM began as just a small food pantry. Now decades later, they provide food, shelter, clothing, the daily free noon meal, heating energy and water bill assistance, prescription aid, emergency transportation, summer food program, administers the USDA’s federal government surplus food program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
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