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'Set pride aside'

Church offers free meal program for anyone down and out

Volunteers served at Lake Orion United Methodist Church to provide free meals to locals in need. Photo by Leah Yanuszeski (click for larger version)
May 19, 2010 - By Leah Yanuszeski, Review intern

Lake Orion United Methodist Church (LOUMC) kicked off their free meals program Monday, May 10 at their downtown location.

Every second Monday of the month, LOUMC will host a free dinner for those in need. By August, with the help of more volunteers and partnerships with other congregations and local businesses, LOUMC hopes to serve meals every Monday.

After joining the church's group United Methodist Men, Robert Scott and others decided to create this free-meals program. For about a year now, Scott has been working with Love INC. and other churches in the area.

"This program is the result of many people reaching out and local businesses coming together and committing to serve said.

Last year, LOUMC experienced a building upgrade, which included renovations to the church kitchen. This, Scott says, is what enables the church to make a free meal.

"Now that we are back up and running it is time for us to do our part to help those whose needs exceed their means," he said.

Scott stressed that the meals are for anyone who can use a free meal to help lighten the burden during these tough economic times. For pride's sake, Scott added, many people do not take such offers, but LOUMC is here to "lend a hand."

"Many people have been in the middle class for their whole lives that now find themselves out of work and now are making difficult decisions about which bills to pay while struggling to keep up with their mortgages," said Scott.

In July of 2009, the closest programs similar to LOUMC's were in Lapeer and Pontiac.

Oxford United Methodist Church then decided to create a free-meals program, for ease of access. Scott explained that with today's high gas prices, many cannot afford to make the drive to Lapeer or Pontiac.

The so-called "free meal" is no longer free. This was also a point Scott addressed in the church's decision to initiate a local program.

Currently three other local churches participate in a free-meal program as well—Tuesdays at Immanuel Congregational and St. Joe's Catholic Church, Wednesdays at Oxford United Methodist Church, and Thursdays at Christ the King Church.

Scott welcomed both volunteers and donations from the community to aid the church in their endeavor to give locals a break during the hard times.

"We are not going to ask people to pray, pay, or work," Scott said, inviting those who need a free meal to get them through the week.

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