It’s been nearly a year since Community Meals of Blaine reorganized and reinvented themselves, and the change has been for the better.
A move to Blaine Senior Center in 2012, accompanied by a partnership with the Community Assistance Program, gave the organization firm footing to engage with the community in a new way. “We used to be the soup kitchen,” director Katie Potter said. “Now, we’re an alternative to eating on the run for busy families during the school year.”
Since the move, Community Meals of Blaine has seen an up-tick in the number of people they serve each week. “Last year, we might have had 10 people a week,” Potter said. “Now, we’re seeing an average of 75. There’s a huge amount of kids from the Boys & Girls Club who come over for dinner. They have their own table and they feel comfortable here.” The program served 542 kids from January to April 2013, mostly from Blaine Boys & Girls Club, and more than 2,500 meals in the first season.
Largely volunteer based, the meals are prepared and served by rotating teams from the community. This past year, there were nine teams serving up food like spaghetti, hot dogs, hamburgers and Swedish meatballs to patrons.
Community Meals of Blaine served its last meal of the school year on June 6, but they are already preparing to reopen on Wednesday, September 4.
Potter said that there are lots of options for people who want to help, whether by donating to the nonprofit or by volunteering their time to lead or serve on a team.
“It’s about 50 hours of volunteer hours a week for a team, and they provide the food,” she said. “But it really fills a need in the community for people to have a safe place to socialize. If a group wants to volunteer but can’t afford the cost of the meal (on average, $150), then the Community Assistance Program can help subsidize it. We don’t want to turn away anyone who wants to help.”
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