About our Breakfast Ministry:
One of First Presbyterian Church’s most significant ministries is our Saturday Breakfast. We have been serving a hot and delicious breakfast on Saturday mornings to people in our community, free of charge, since 2001. 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 made up of members of Thames Christian Fellowship and Forward City Church. 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 Ministry
(Submitted by Bob Fletcher)
·As of January 2022, this ministry is in its 21st year during which we have served over 120,000 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.
I had one of our guests tell me “the time I spend at the Saturday morning breakfast, is the highlight of my week!”
Recently at a local grocery store, I met a young mother who has attended our Saturday breakfast since its beginning. She was so thrilled to see me and gave me a hug! She told me she now has a permanent job at the store allowing her to get off the welfare roll.
We encourage our volunteers to be very friendly as they serve our guests. Also our lead volunteers offer counseling and prayer on an individual basis as conditions present themselves.
We serve complete breakfasts, with 4 different menus – one each week.
· 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 potatoes.
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 $190,000 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.