Thanksgiving season meals feed 1,800

Holiday food and fellowship was as plentiful as ever as volunteers served about 1,800 diners at three area Thanksgiving meals — with year-over-year increases reported at each of the sites.

All told, the number of meals increased about 23 percent over last year. The annual turnouts do fluctuate, depending partly upon diners’ holiday options with nearby relatives and related situations, organizers said.

A record 807 dinners were served Thursday at Columbus Baptist Church’s annual Feed the Flock meal, including dine-in and delivered meals from the congregation at 4821 U.S. 31 and other volunteers.

That’s about 200 meals more than a year ago.

“It’s probably just a case of being better known,” said the Rev. Chuck Kennedy, Columbus Baptist Church pastor.

The church has been doing a Feed the Flock Free Meal and Free Grocery Night on the fourth Friday of every month throughout this year, he said.

At First Christian Church, congregation members teamed Thursday with Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center and Fed Ex to serve 701 people, organizers said. That includes both dine-in and delivered meals, and that’s considerably more than the 594 served in 2016, said Diane Doup, community outreach coordinator at Lincoln-Central.

But history shows that volunteers at the First Christian meal served a record 785 people in 2013.

And at the America and Roby Anderson Center, about 300 people — 9 percent more than 2016’s total of 275 — were served Nov. 18 at the center and through meals delivered by volunteering Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department staffers, organizer Julie Bilz said.

Bilz is president of the State Street Area Association, which coordinated the meal with the help of 40 volunteers from the First Church of the Nazarene, located just north of the Anderson center.

“Three hundred (meals) is wonderful,” Bilz said.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.