CONNEAUT — A crew of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church workers rise early on Saturday mornings to start a process that leads to residents having food for the weekend.
"I was here at 9:30 a.m.," said Michelle Logan who helps organize the weekly event that helps feed the hungry. She said it started in July when the church became aware that children from Conneaut were being fed through the schools and area restaurants but only during the week.
"We started this July 11," Logan said
. She said for one week it was only for children, then organizers realized adults were in need of food as well. The program is called "Fishes and Loaves,"
"The program has expanded from 27 lunches served the first week, to 40 the second week and now we are doing more than 200 a week," Logan said.
She works on the project with Stephanie, Luke and Grace Patriarco, Janice Boyle and Nikolas Mason.
"These young people have given up their Saturday mornings since July," Logan said.
She said they wear masks and gloves to keep everyone as safe as possible.
The program has expanded to include a hot nightly meal to be served the last Saturday of every month. Logan said the continuing ministry is able to continue due to the regular and on-going donations of church members and community residents who wish to help out as well.
The meals are served "drive-through" style with no contact between people.
"We have this down to a system," she said of the cooperative work used to make and distribute the meals.
Stephanie Patriarco said Logan had been hoping to provide meals to those in need for several years. Logan and Patriarco said the COVID-19 experience pushed them into the meal distribution, but hope it will last longer than the pandemic if the needs continue.
"It is amazing. People are genuinely appreciative. Just when we are tired [and] thinking we are done, something happens that we know we are doing the right thing," Stephanie Patriarco said.
Nik's Closet started with Mason, who agreed to help collect toiletries and other items for those who might need assistance. Items such as deodorant and shampoo are placed on a table where visitors can stop after they have received their meals.
In addition to those in attendance on Saturday distribution day many other people assist behind the scenes, Logan said. She said people cut up vegetables and help package other items ahead of the sandwich and soup making on Saturday mornings.