In 2009, our pastor at Aurora First Baptist, Roger Brumley, became very concerned about the number of hungry people in Aurora, especially children in the summer after school was out. He encouraged our church to be involved in helping with this problem. The “Come and Dine Community Dinner” evolved from this need. We took the name from the Bible where Jesus told those around him to ”Come and Dine." In July and August that year, we served 1,758 meals at a total cost of $3,319 which included a new freezer and food warmers. The United Methodist Church, Nazarene Church and Mercy Hospital helped us cook, serve, wash dishes and perform other duties.
Last year, 2018, First Baptist, Engage, Fundamental Methodist, Grace Lutheran, Holy Trinity, Nazarene, First Presbyterian, Orange Presbyterian, and Mercy Hospital were involved with the Come and Dine meals. We served 12,133 meals in 21 nights and it cost $19,086. The cost would have been much higher if not for generous food donations from various businesses.
Tyson Food and Schreiber’s always donate chicken and cheese to help us out. More than 3,280 desserts were donated by members of the various churches involved with Come and Dine. As you can see, the number of meals has increased steadily in the last 10 years, but so have the expenses. We now serve meals each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Since the dinners started in 2009, we have served a total of 76,834 meals.
The Come and Dine Community Dinners are meeting the needs of many families in Aurora during the summer after summer school is out.
We serve meals to children, families, single individuals, senior citizens and homeless persons at our meals. With the economy causing everyone to have to stretch every dollar, we eight churches and Mercy Hospital want to help everyone possible to have a full course meal to eat, especially during the seven weeks after summer school is out until school starts again the middle of August. We follow Federal Food Guidelines in that everyone gets a meat, potato/rice, vegetable, salad, fruit and bread. Federal guidelines do not require a dessert, but we also provide this -- everyone needs dessert!
We prefer that everyone come to first Baptist Church Fellowship Hall to eat, as they will have more food on hand, but we do deliver to those who cannot come in because of physical disabilities or lack of transportation. Those eating at the church have extra side dishes available to them if they wish to have them. These cannot be provided to deliveries as there is just so much you can put in the delivery boxes.
If you come in and plan to take food home with you, please bring some kind of container (box, laundry basket, etc.) as it makes it much easier to get your food home without spilling any.
Feeding children is very important; last year we delivered meals each night to more than 180 children who could not come in because of parents’ working and they were with babysitters, or the family only had one car and one of the parents had to take it to get to work at night, etc. For some, this was the only meal they had that day. We served many more children who came in with their families to eat.
Some families have told us that they come in to eat with us on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, get take out on Thursday, don’t eat on Friday, eat the takeout on Saturday, don’t eat on Sunday and then come back and eat with us on Monday night.
Some senior adults told us that the free meals made it easier for them to buy their medicine and they didn’t have to worry about whether to buy food or buy their medicine.
We anticipate serving even more meals this summer. People have the misconception that churches are wealthy, but when the economy is weak, people do not give to the church. We only stay open because of donations to the church. We must rely on donations to help with the Come and Dine Community Dinners. If anyone would like to donate to help with the meals, please contact Aurora First Baptist at 678-3774 or Barbara Wommack at 678-3669.