MASSENA — The volunteers who staff the free Community Meal program at First United Methodist Church in Massena had special deliveries for those who came by the church on Wednesday morning.

They have teamed up with the Food Bank of Central New York and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and had received nearly 450 boxes of food to distribute to anyone who drove up from 9 a.m. to noon.

St. Vincent de Paul, the Massena Neighborhood Center and Massena Salvation Army also dropped by to pick up an allotment of boxes that they could hand out to their clients.

The boxes are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until they are all gone. Anyone picking up a box must be wearing a mask.

Boxes contained produce items, dairy products and meat, items like milk, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, chicken patties, chicken nuggets, sliced cheese, sausage, meatballs, lettuce, carrots, apples, onions, potatoes and oranges. They were loaded by volunteers into vehicles as they drove up near the church’s Fellowship Hall.

The truck delivering the food boxes was scheduled to roll up at 8 a.m., and coordinator Kathryn Perry said they were ready for the anticipated large turnout.

“It’ll be a strictly drive-through operation,” she said.

The distribution will be held from 9 a.m. to noon every Wednesday in June.

In addition to the distribution of the boxes, the Community Meal program also continues to offer to-go lunches from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Fellowship Hall. Anyone picking up a lunch must be wearing a mask.

No menu is available right now, but the lunches continue to be popular, averaging about 200 people each day. They served 60 people on the first day of operation, and now they ensure there’s enough food for 200 people.

The to-go lunches started in April and, with the exception of two weeks when they closed down to replace the stove in the kitchen, clean and adhere to coronavirus restrictions, it’s been business as usual.

The lunches include meat, vegetable and fruit using the same guidelines they followed for free community dinners that were held on Thursdays.

Past meals have included turkey strata, goulash, chicken cacciatore with pasta, chicken burger and turkey dinner.

The lunches are free to anyone in the community, but donations are gratefully accepted.

When the “to-go” program started, individuals would phone in orders and then pick them up. Now, because of the overwhelming response, it’s first-come, first-served to individuals who drive up during the serving hour, until the food is gone for the day.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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