The Table reopens its doors
Members of The Table board of directors discuss the upcoming free community meal. On-site meals will be served once again at St. Augustine’s Church beginning Jan. 31. From left, Rev. Meredyth Albright, Joanne Maass, Judy Beyer and Corky Stoxen. Star Journal photo.
By Eileen Persike, editor
The Table, the monthly free community meal served at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Rhinelander is back. After providing only pickup meals since the COVID pandemic, organizers have reopened the doors and are inviting everyone in the community to fix a plate.
The Table started in 1995 and more than a free meal, it was a social event for older adults in the community.
“A lot of the elderly ladies from our church came and they would pick up people at the Rhine Haus,” said Table board member Joanne Maass. “It was a big social thing at the time.”
“The two tables that there always were of the ladies from the Rhine Haus liked to come because they could get things like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, things they had made when their families were growing up but never made for themselves,” added Rev. Meredyth Albright.
This was a time before the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry existed, and prior to other meal programs in the city, so meals were provided the last two days of the month. Now volunteer organizations set up, cook, serve and cleanup at The Table the last day of the month, except in December, which is held Dec. 30.
“They chose the last two days of the month because back then everyone got their social security on the first of the month and their benefit checks, so people were running low by the end of month and this way people would have food,” said Rev. Albright.
Today the board of directors stresses the meal is for everyone in the community, of all ages, including families with young children. The meal is served at 5:30 p.m. and there are no reservations. High chairs are available and there is a play area for kids.
The goal is to have 12 sponsor groups, one for each month, but with increasing food costs, board members suggest that organizations such as church groups, work groups and service organizations can double up and split the cost and the work. The Table does have funds available to financially assist if necessary.
Anyone wishing to volunteer in any capacity can contact the church at 715-420-0066.