Almost every month, Mother of Ken's church, St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Iola, Kansas, hosts a community dinner. They serve everything from spaghetti to such southeast Kansas delicacies as ham and beans and chicken and noodles. The chicken and noodle dinner (sometimes referred to in that part of the world as a "feed") is probably the most popular because they make the noodles from scratch and have some of the best potatoes around.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a fan of chicken and noodles nor is Mother of Ken. Father of Ken, on the other hand, loves this dish. Mother of Ken is still supportive of the noodle making efforts, even though she doesn't eat them. When chicken and noodles are on the menu for the community dinner, members of the church participate in "Noodle School" after church on the Sunday before the dinner, which is usually held on Wednesday evening. When they started this a few years ago, experienced noodle makers taught the others how to make them and it is still called "Noodle School" even though everyone knows what they are doing now. Having never participated in "Noodle School," I don't know all of the steps, but I do know that Mother of Ken is in charge of cutting the noodles and I think that Father of Ken is in charge of rolling out the dough. I'm sure they will correct me if I am wrong. This is a picture of the noodles drying on tables:
It takes a lot of noodles to feed all of the people who come to these dinners. They are open to the community and the church does not charge anyone to eat. They do accept free will offerings and all of the money that they receive is used to purchase food for anyone in the community that needs it. Iola is a small community that suffered a lot of damage from flooding a few summers ago and much of the local economy relies on agriculture and manufacturing jobs, which means that people are feeling the effects of the national economic situation. So, there is a lot of need in the community, especially now.
These community dinners have grown quite a bit since they started several years ago and the most recent chicken and noodle dinner was no different. Mother of Ken reports that they had ten roasters full of chicken and noodles, 100 pounds of potatoes, 8 gallons of green beans, and 24 pies and they ran out of everything but noodles. A lot of people come to the church to eat, others pick up orders to take home, some (especially older people) have their dinner delivered, and lots of people purchase extra chicken and noodles to take home and freeze for later.
I wish that I had more pictures to show you, but the picture of the noodles drying will have to suffice. There are acts of kindness like this happening all over the country right now as people suffer from the economic downturn and various natural disasters and I'm glad to be able to tell all of you gentle readers about the people at St. Timothy's in Iola and their commitment to making sure that no one in their community goes hungry.
In addition to the community dinners, they also run a backpack program to provide food for school children over the weekend. There were kids who did not have anything to eat between school lunch on Friday and school breakfast on Monday, so the people of St. Timothy's put together packages of food that teachers can slip into the children's backpacks as they leave school on Friday.
To all of my gentle readers, please consider supporting your local food pantry, food bank, or any other program that provides food to those in need. Every little bit helps, so when you are doing your grocery shopping, buy some extra food to give to someone in need. As one of the women of St. Timothy's always says, "If you need it, they need it."
One last note--St. Timothy's has published a cookbook that includes contributions from parishioners and relatives and friends of parishioners (including me). The cookbook just happens to include the recipe for St. Timothy's famous potatoes, which they serve with the chicken and noodles, among other things. If you are interested in ordering a cookbook, I could probably coax Mother of Ken to send one to you. The cost is $10 plus shipping--just leave a comment with your e-mail address and I'll be in touch.