More than just a meal

It’s more than a hot, nutritious meal.

When you walk into the Parish Hall on Lewis Street on a Thursday at lunchtime, you will discover a sense of community like you have never experienced before.

The kitchen buzzes with laughter and camaraderie as community-based nonprofits and church groups prepare a hot, nutritious meal in service to those who have gathered.

Each week, a different community organization prepares a meal that nourishes not only the body, but the soul.

Those who come to enjoy the meal are from every walk of life. There are some who attend who are in need and who wonder where their next meal will come from. You will find others with a different sort of need: their heart hungers for companionship and kindness. You will find friends old and new sharing stories about their grandchildren and neighbors.

You will notice volunteers in the kitchen packing up meals to be delivered to the homes of our community’s shut-ins.

Loaves and Fishes is a volunteer-run community meal program that offers a free lunch every Thursday.

According to an article written by Sally Neel and printed in The SUN last year, “Loaves and Fishes, established in 2005, provides a hot and nourishing meal to up to 300 people each week, almost 15,000 per year. There are many in Archuleta County who cannot afford hot meals every day, some who do not have even a means of cooking a hot meal. Loaves and Fishes assures that they receive at least one balanced and nutritious hot meal each week, free of charge. Loaves and Fishes volunteers are the hub of the organization. It is through their generosity of time, talent, and funding that the hungry are fed.

“The purpose of this organization, Loaves and Fishes of Archuleta County, Colo., serving as a faith based and community based organization, is to provide nutritious meals in a safe, warm, and caring environment, free of charge, to anyone who comes seeking nourishment and fellowship. The mission also is to provide access to community services and resources to those in need, while providing opportunities for volunteers to give of themselves in service to others.”

Upon arrival at Loaves and Fishes, you are greeted at the door by members of the volunteering organization for that week.

Donors provide the food, while volunteers cook the meal and serve those in attendance. The process is smooth and efficient.

The meal that is served provides more than meets the eye.

It is a much-appreciated break from warming up a can of soup and sitting alone at your desk at work. For those who live alone, it is a social event. It is time to catch up on what your friends, neighbors and fellow Pagosans have been doing.

Hot meals are served year-round each Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The meal is free to all who attend.

There is true joy in serving others, but with Loaves and Fishes, what you take away from the time you share in getting to know your friends and neighbors in Pagosa Springs is priceless.

To truly get to know our community, stop by Loaves and Fishes for lunch.

Take time to visit and share yourself with others. It will feed your heart and nourish your soul.

Terri Lynn Oldham House

This story was posted on September 25, 2014.