Summit County Rotary
Rotary Logo
Lord of the Mountains Luthern Church
Summit County Elks 2561 Summit County Rotary Lord of the Mountains Luthern Church, Summit County

graciously invite ALL to
Summit County's COMMUNITY DINNER
every Tuesday nite from 5p.m. to 7p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Silverthorne

 

Community Dinner

March 3, 2009 – March 3, 2015
91,000 + meals served, 18,000 + to children

In 2008, dismayed by the state of the economy and how it was affecting workers, families and children in Summit County, Rotarian Deborah Hage approached Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church, Summit County Elks Lodge 2561 and Rotary Club of Summit County to form a partnership to provide a weekly, free community dinner to any and all comers. Start up funds were provided by a District Simplified Grant with District 5450 matching $4000 of Summit County Rotary’s contribution of $4000. That resulting $8000 allowed the initial food and supplies to be purchased. It also allowed for money to be paid to the Elks Lodge for the weekly use of the facility, permanent food storage, walk in refrigerator space, ovens, dishwashers, cleaning, etc. The first dinner was March 3, 2009. 50 people were served a free, hot nutritious dinner prepared by Rotarians Al and Liz Wickert.

Six years later, despite the increased numbers, the same objective remains: to provide a meal that welcomes everyone, regardless of need. The focus is on those struggling financially, the underemployed, unemployed, and /or homeless men, women and children. Most of our participants are the working poor, however, all are welcome. There is no means test. It has become a gathering place for older residents of Summit County who do not have the means to prepare a complete nutritious meal for themselves, as well as the deaf community. Many participants walk to the Elks Lodge from their apartments in the low income housing complex in the neighborhood, some children attending by themselves as their parents are at work. Numerous people celebrate their birthday with us. Children have even been known to bring their party to us! We feed them and provide them with a cake donated by Safeway, everyone sings Happy Birthday, and a good time is had by all!

In the first year, from March 3, 09 – March 2, 10, 11,727 meals were served, including 3,672 to children. Currently, approximately 300 - 350 people are served each week a meal of main course, fresh salad, fresh fruit, bread, vegetable and dessert. Numerous businesses contribute weekly. The most served at one dinner was 557, Dec 12, 2013, prepared and served by Rotarians!

Safeway and Orowheat/Bimbo Bakeries continue to donate all of the bread and desserts. Target and City Market contribute salad, fruit, milk, cheese, meat and other food items as available every week. Old Chicago, Copper Mountain, Vail Resorts, Arapahoe Basin, Dillon Dam Brewery, Bonnie Q BBQ and numerous other restaurants and chefs, frequently donate both the food and/or the preparation of the meal. Rotarian Deborah Hage continues to head up the cooking crew of 7 regular volunteers. Food Bank of the Rockies remains an important source for donated food. Creating a nutritious, hot, well rounded meal for 350 people each week from donated items makes Iron Man Chef look like a piece of cake!

Each week approximately 15 serving volunteers are needed and they work an average of 4 hours. It is estimated that 6000 volunteer hours a year have been contributed to date, equaling 36,000 hours. Rotarians donate professional services such as plumbing and electrical work as needed. Schools, churches, businesses and other non-profits all take turns providing volunteers from within their organizations. Additional volunteers come from within the served participants as many people come and eat and then stay to bus tables, do dishes, serve desserts, etc.

Funding flows in from individuals, churches, town governments, grants, and businesses, throughout Summit County. Equipment such as larger capacity convection ovens, commercial coffee maker, freezers, steam table, warming oven, and prep tables, have been funded primarily by Rotarians. Grants are written and submitted by Rotarian Judi LaPoint. Bookkeeping is done by Rotarian Celia Johnson.

What everyone receives when the doors open every Tuesday at 5 pm is food and a whole lot more! Physical hunger is a reality but the dinners serve more then the stomach. A sense of community, an alleviation of loneliness, an antidote to the fatigue of working more then one job, family time for parents who don’t have to rush around after work……it all comes together at the Elks Lodge. The smells from the kitchen radiate out into the street. The warmth of the old log dining room welcomes people in from the cold. Every guest is greeted. Seconds and thirds are encouraged for those recovering from days of little food. Excess food donated is put out on tables for participants to take home.

Participation in the dinners, from donors, to food preparers, to serving volunteers, to restaurants, to churches, to participants makes the weekly Community Dinner a truly community event, involving people from all walks of life. Rotary Club of Summit County is proud of its weekly contribution to the lives of those in need in Summit County and members consider it one of their proudest achievements.



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