Spicer, Minn., Church’s Frozen Meals Ministry Creates Community Bond – West Central Tribune
SPICER – There’s something about food showing up at the door that creates an incredible bond between the people who prepare it and those who receive it.
For those grieving, recovering from illness, or overwhelmed with the demands of a new baby, having a visitor bring a meal not only provides physical sustenance, but also a deep sense of loved one. by a caring community.
This is part of the goal of a new “frozen meal ministry” at Spicer’s Faith Lutheran Church.
The food donation is “so thoughtful,” Pastor Seyward told Ask. “We all need food to live, but there’s something about others cooking food for you,” she said.
And like Holy Communion which is part of worship at his church, Ask said sharing a meal unites people as a community.
“Food connects people, whether preparing it, sharing it, receiving it,” said Erin Hoffman, a member of Faith Lutheran Church, which launched the new ministry in November.
“Food connects, and that’s our hope with that is that those who prepare the meal and those who receive it feel connected to God and to our church.”
Hoffman, a mother of three young boys, had gotten together with a small group of friends in the past to cook frozen meals to ease the strain of a busy life.
Along with this experience, Hoffman had used “action” money from Thrivent, a nonprofit financial organization founded by Lutherans, to prepare frozen meals for the pastor to bring to parishioners in need when she lived. in Sartell.
Last fall, she proposed that a new program — which would bring families together to prepare frozen meals themselves and stock the church kitchen freezer with meals for the pastor to deliver — be launched at Faith. Lutheran Church.
After just two sessions, Hoffman said the program was going well.
“The pastor was thrilled to have these frozen meals to take on his pastoral visit,” Hoffman said. “And she’s excited about new ministry opportunities.”
Organically bringing out a program that serves others is a unique component of the Frieza Meal Ministry, said Ask, who was thrilled that Hoffman not only came up with the idea, but also offered to coordinate and carry it out.
Not only do club members prepare food for their own families, but they “go that extra step to serve others in the church,” Ask said. “It shows how badly they get it.”
Making the church kitchen available for the program was also a great use of church resources, she said. “That’s why it was built, hoping to use it,” she said.
The Freezer Meal Cooking Club asks each participant to pay $50 to cover grocery costs to prepare four different recipes. Each participant leaves with four meals ready for the freezer, with each meal serving approximately five people.
The cost and free labor of the participants translates into a dozen meals put in the church freezer for the pastor to deliver.
Hoffman’s small group of friends and his proposal to make it a church ministry led 25 people to show up in the church kitchen for the first session in November. There were almost as many for the second day of cooking last Sunday, January 23, when chicken cacciatore, beef chimichangas, garlic chicken and parmesan and meatballs were on the recipe board.
“It was fun and successful, and it’s a great moment of camaraderie,” Hoffman said.
Along with tasty recipes culled from frozen dinner cookbooks, Hoffman said the project involved a fair amount of math.
Using a spreadsheet, Hoffman said she calculates the number of pounds, bunches or boxes of ingredients needed to make enough batches of food for each attendee — and the ministry.
She uses a local grocery store’s online ordering system and, after ferrying the huge load of goods to the church, begins sorting through the ingredients needed for each recipe.
“It’s a lot of problem-solving and collaboration,” she said.
Last week, Hoffman had help from Sunday School students and a grandmother and grandson to help sort groceries in the church kitchen. “It was nice to have the multi-generational aspect,” Hoffman said.
Participants are divided into four groups, with each group making an entire recipe from start to finish.
There’s usually not a lot of actual cooking involved with frozen meals, Hoffman said. Other than browning ground beef for chimichangas, most recipes involve assembling raw ingredients ready to go in the crock pot or oven.
Preparing the food, assembling the meals, packing them for the freezer with attached cooking instructions, and cleaning up the church kitchen takes just two hours.
“Everyone is participating and helping out,” she said.
The club will meet every two months to prepare a new batch of meals. Hoffman encourages other churches to consider this type of program and is willing to share tips she’s learned along the way.
“We don’t keep any secrets,” said Hoffman, who once fielded a call from a North Dakota pastor about the Frieza Meal Ministry.
So far the meals have been a success.
Hoffman served the chimichangas to his family. “It was popular with my three boys because there were no leftovers,” she said.