Feeding the Community in Greene County

Feeding the Community in Greene County

December 15, 2021 in Agency Spotlight

The holiday season brings with it a reminder that meals bring people together. Many people look forward to eating warm comfort foods and sharing side dishes.

There’s nothing quite like a hot, filling meal, but the reality for many is that meals like these are a luxury all year round. Grace United Methodist Church recognizes the importance of a hot meal as they provide their weekly Wednesday night community dinners.

Grace UMC has been serving community meals since the 1980’s. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grace UMC continued to offer free meals to anyone who wanted one. Rhonda Galbraith, the pastor at Grace UMC, explains that the church never skipped a Wednesday community dinner, even when they had to adapt to the uncertainty of a pandemic.

“I joked that so many people were working from home, but we were always here. Our friends needed services, and we were here hard at work making sure they got them,” says Pastor Rhonda.

In order to make their community dinners safer, Grace UMC transitioned from seated dinners to grab-and-go style meals. Volunteers from all over the community, including from other denominations and faith groups, continued to prepare the food fresh and packed it into containers that recipients could take with them. Rather than provide just cold or pre-made items, Grace UMC wanted to make sure that those who wanted food could still receive the comfort of a hot meal. Each week, volunteers continue to prepare plenty of food to make sure no one leaves hungry.

While so many people are grateful for a free meal, another benefit of the program is the opportunity for community. Rhonda and the volunteers see lots of regulars, and get to know many of them by name.
“A lot of people come who just need someone to talk to or someone to listen to them. It’s all about community,” says Rhonda.

Grace UMC’s Wednesday night dinners are open to anyone who shows up, but many who attend are living in low-income housing or have no home at all. For some, the extra meal lifts their financial burden, even if just for one evening. For others, they may not have eaten in days.

“We meet a good amount of people that are housed,” explains Rhonda, “but housing might be inadequate. We’ve served one woman whose house didn’t even have a front door, and another man who was in a wheelchair without accessible entry, so he would have to lift himself up into his home in his wheelchair. There are so many people that fall through the cracks, and we don’t notice until we see them.”

Grace UMC’s outreach also extends beyond dinners to laundry services and basic needs. While attending a Wednesday night dinner, individuals can receive detergent pods and a $10 voucher to a nearby laundromat, providing around 3 loads of laundry. If they need to, attendees can look around in the church’s pantry-style “store” for basic items such as snacks, hygiene items, and some clothing items. In addition to these programs, the church also participates as a women’s cold weather shelter.

In an effort to support our member agencies’ many services, Ozarks Food Harvest provides several programs, including our Retail Pick-Up Program, which coordinates pick-ups of product donations from more than 140 grocers every week. Grace UMC participates in this program by picking up donated product directly from a nearby Kum & Go, which Rhonda says has been a huge blessing.

“It’s saved a lot of folks. We can use the ready-to-eat items for non-meal times. When we have the women’s cold weather shelter, we can heat those up and provide a few fresh and hot options.”

“Our partnership with Ozarks Food Harvest has been a beautiful thing,” Rhonda continues, “It’s amazing the variety of choices we have from you. We often plan our menu around what Ozarks Food Harvest has. It really helps us stretch the dollars so we can redirect funds to other beneficial things.”

We are so grateful for partner agencies like Grace United Methodist Church. Their dedication to serving their communities is how we continue to transform hunger into hope. If you want to learn more about Grace United Methodist Church, visit