Salvation Army Shepherd’s Table starts Sunday

WHAT’S COOKING? — Volunteer Kathy Barnes and Lt. Erik Muhs of the Salvation Army of Steubenville will be on hand when the organization starts the Shepherd’s Table hot meal program on Sunday at 332 N. Fourth St., Steubenville. The Sunday meal starts at 12:30 p.m. and has been expanded to every Sunday with the exception of a few holidays. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — The Shepherd’s Table at the Salvation Army of Steubenville kicks off this Sunday with a new twist.

The free community meal served on Sundays at the Salvation Army at 332 N. Fourth St. expands to a year-round schedule with the exception of a few holidays.

And that’s possible thanks to the generosity of the J.C. Williams Trust, according to Lt. Erik Muhs, who serves as pastor/corps officer at the Salvation Army of Steubenville along with his wife, Barri Vazquez-Muhs.

“Shepherd’s Table is for the entire community. There’s no zip code restriction, no addresses needed,” Muhs said. “It’s for anyone looking to come down for a hot meal, and we guarantee the hot meal to be served between 12:30 p.m. and 1:15 p.m., but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop and close right at 1:15 — that’s just when the food is guaranteed to be hot, because we want people to be able to come in and relax after they eat and fellowship with one another, so that’s the time the food will be warm and served, but fellowship will continue on until we need to clean up,” Muhs said.

In past years, Shepherd’s Table ran November through April, which was due to a lack of funding to go beyond that, according to Muhs.

“This year we received $17,500 from the J.C. Williams Trust, and because of that funding, we now have enough funds to be open an entire year, and I hope that it’s a great opening and a pathway for the community to come in and see what the Salvation Army has to provide,” he said.

“It’s going 52 weeks with the exclusion of some holidays,” Muhs said. Two of the exceptions include Nov. 24, the Sunday before Thanksgiving given the Salvation Army offers a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day, and Dec. 29, the Sunday before New Year’s Day when, again, the Salvation Army offers a hot meal on Jan. 1.

The money award covers food, leaving opportunities for other ways people can assist financially and physically.

“We can always use money and the physical donations, such as aluminum pans and aluminum foil, cookware, serving ware, cleaning supplies, because this amount of money we got is for food specifically, so while we are able to purchase the food, we always are looking for the other materials that go along with cooking, cleaning and serving meals as well,” Muhs said.

“The Flying Pilot in town has been generous enough to donate pre-wrapped silverware for us, and we just purchased 80 new plates from Dollar Tree so we can be a little more environmentally friendly by having washable plates now, and because of those services, then we’re able to expand our food options,” he added.

Heading the cooking effort is a familiar face at the Salvation Army — Sgt. Maj. Lorraine Linton, who officially retired Sept. 28 after a close to 33-year career but is continuing in a volunteer capacity and enjoys cooking for that particular outreach.

“Lorraine has the menu planned through the first of November and is excited to cook, and she also gives devotions before the meal starts because this is her ministry she’s been called to — to serve those who need food and also serve those who need to hear the word of Jesus Christ,” Muhs said.

People are welcome to attend the Sunday church service that begins at 11 a.m. before gathering for the meal.

Volunteers to help with serving and cleanup are always needed and appreciated, according to Muhs. “Those are the two areas that we always are looking for volunteers. We do have some church members (who help), and we are trying to get some of the younger church members who are in high school and looking for community service hours. We always could use companies, individuals, families to come in, even if just to sit with people and talk. That’s one of the main reasons people are here — not just to get a meal, but to get out of the house and not be alone,” he said.

It’s also an opportunity for people to learn about Salvation Army programs and services.

On average, Shepherd’s Table, which can accommodate 60 people, serves 20 to 40 people at the beginning of the month and closer to capacity toward the end of the month, according to Muhs.

“We’re excited to start our feeding program, and we’re so grateful for the funds we have received,” Muhs said. For information about assisting with the program, call (740) 282-5121.