OSCODA — Free community lunches, also known as the Loaves and Fishes Café, returned to the Oscoda United Methodist Church on Monday, Nov. 14. After operating as a drive-thru for the past two years, in-person lunches are back.

Lunch will be served on Mondays and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. until mid-April with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, and Dec. 1 when a blood drive will be held at the church.

On Nov. 14 a hot and hearty homemade vegetable beef soup was on the menu along with a ground bologna sandwich on wheat bread and a homemade brownie. Water and coffee rounded out the meal. The menu, that changes every week, can be found on the Loaves and Fishes Café Facebook page.

Nov. 14 was a special day for organizers Kay and Bill Gaines who were celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary. They celebrated with their Loaves and Fishes Café family.

But Kay and Bill can’t do it alone. It takes six volunteers to run the luncheon. Volunteers serve soup, make sandwiches, greet guests, and do dishes to make the lunches a success. To volunteer, please call Kay at 989-739-2779.

Food isn’t the only thing on the menu. Local pianist Tom Erlenbaugh entertains diners with his musical talent on the piano.

Howard Powley and his wife Sharron started the lunches 13 years ago after Sharron learned that people were living in the local woods. She wanted to provide a warm spot for people to come to have a cup of coffee, charge their cell phone and eat a hearty lunch, all free of charge.

Over the years the lunch has evolved into more of a community event that typically serves 65-70 lunches twice per week. Donations are welcome and those who can pay help support those who can’t.

Pastor Pam Harkema said she is excited to have this ministry for the community.

The Oscoda Methodist Church, located at 120 W. Dwight Ave. has a traditional service at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. The casual Saturday service at 6 p.m. is currently suspended due to illness. Harkema hopes it will be back in January.

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