One of First Presbyterian Church's most significant ministries is our Saturday Outreach Breakfast. We have been serving a hot and delicious breakfast on Saturday mornings to people in our community, free of charge, for fifteen years. The need is great in our community, and we serve between 100 to 150 guests every week.
It is a great privilege to respond to the call of Jesus, and to serve our community in this way. We are mindful that God has blessed us exceedingly, and so this is one way in which we bless others through what God has given us.
It takes a large number of volunteers to pull off a breakfast for over 100 people every week. To that end, we are blessed with four cooking teams (each with their own special menu!) that take turns each month preparing the breakfast which our guests get to enjoy.
There are also many set-up, server, kitchen and clean-up teams that work together to make sure the breakfast runs smoothly, and as many guests as possible can eat easily and comfortably.
This is a great ministry to serve in as a member of First Church. As well, we are blessed by the help of volunteers from many churches in Chatham. In fact, one of our cooking teams is from Thames Christian Fellowship. We are thankful to be helped by so many people in our community who joyfully serve at our Outreach Breakfast. The Breakfast Outreach is a great way for teenagers to learn the value of service, and earn hours toward their community service requirements for high school graduation.
We can always use the help of more volunteers. Should you be interested in helping out in this ministry, please call the office at (519) 352-2313, and you will be directed to the proper contacts.
History and Features of our Saturday Breakfast Program
Submitted by Bob Fletcher.
· As of January 2017, the program is in its 16th year, starting October of 2001. During this period of time the program has served over 84,000 breakfasts.
On a weekly basis we serve anywhere from 100 to 170 guests (it is somewhat based on the time of the month, plus weather conditions). Ages range from babies to over 80 years of age!
We serve our breakfast every week of the year., except for occurrences when we conflict with some other community meal - for example the Christmas Day meal at St. Joseph’s Church. Otherwise we have served breakfast every Saturday for all these years.
Every Saturday we have 15-20 volunteers working at the Church on this program. Weekly we have coordinators who have to order the food and supplies, plus shoppers who have to go out and get the food. To avoid burn-out we schedule the volunteers approximately every 4 weeks. We have well over 100 volunteers, many from our congregation, but also volunteers from the Chatham-Kent community who do not attend our Church. We also provide community hours to high school students in our Community. At times we provide opportunity for Restorative Justice Clients to fulfill their community hours.
This is not the typical "Soup Kitchen" feeding clients on a production line basis, and rushing them out so that the next group can come in. We provide a warm, hospitable and friendly environment. There are artificial flowers on each table and placemats including a greeting from First Church and a breakfast prayer. Our guests gather round a table and spend time socializing. Through a grant from our Presbytery we were able to replace our 60 year-old rectangular tables with round tables which increases the feeling of togetherness. Though many are here because they are hungry, there are many who come to the breakfast because they are lonely and appreciate the fellowship they share.
· Weekly we always serve piping hot oatmeal, 3 or 4 brands of cereal, orange juice, apple juice, coffee, tea, also toast and English muffins and the required jam and syrup (including sugar free) when the menu requires it.
Week 1: Frittata and hash brown
Week 2: Sausage, hash browns and scrambled eggs.
Week 3: French toast, hash browns, and sausage.
Week 4: Pancakes and sausage
We have spent over $181,000 on food and the required supplies since the program started in 2001. In our first full-year, 2002 we spent over $7000 on food and supplies; this has risen to over $15,000 per year. Surprisingly even with interest rates declining and the cost of food rising, plus serving many more people, thanks to generous donations from church members, the community, other churches in our community and various agencies, we have a bit of a surplus in this account.
Photos of our breakfast crews in action:
Bob Fletcher - Our Saturday Outreach Breakfast Coordinator.
One of our four JOYFUL cooking teams!
Another happy team of cooks!
Cheery kitchen clean-up crew.
Serving stations ready to go!
We greatly appreciate the help from other churches and members of the community. In the photo below, friends from First Reformed Church in Chatham volunteered at the breakfast.
This menu: Fritatta with ham, potatoes, toast and English muffins, a choice of cereals and oatmeal, orange juice, apple juice, tea and coffee.
Our serving hall, just minutes prior to opening. Our beautiful new tables were purchased thanks to a generous grant from the Presbytery of Essex-Kent.