by Jessica Henry

The Sunday Lunch Program at St. Ann's Church is more than a nutritionally balanced meal -- it's a social event. Volunteers serve lunches to more than 100 people every Sunday at 1 pm at St. Ann's, with eight organizations rotating the weekly food service responsibilities. Spike Cunningham, the coordinator of the Sunday Lunch Program, says that "it runs with a minimum amount of organization due to the fact that it is a shared vision and a shared ministry."

Created in 1992 by St. Ann's Church, Grace Lutheran and Pacific Avenue Christian, the program was originally intended to last only through Lent of that year. After a number of churches expressed a desire to become involved, however, the program forged ahead.

Today, the eight churches and organizations involved in the program include St. Ann's, Grace Lutheran, the Altamont Group, Shalom Fellowship, Providence Associates, St. Peter's Catholic, Spokane Valley United Methodist and Centenary United Methodist.

The lunches, always nutritionally balanced, consist of meat, vegetable, bread, juice, milk and coffee; on a recent visit, government stew and mashed potatoes were featured. But it's not just run-of-the-mill grub; on another Sunday, volunteers were making pasta salad complete with twigs of fresh, garden-grown basil, adding a little homemade flavor.

Just as important as the meal, however, are the community interaction, conversation and exchange of ideas that take place across the plates. Cunningham says that "the volunteers view the lunch as a way of being one with the community."

Unfortunately, however, the service and interaction may come to a halt unless the program begins to attract more contributions. Cunningham explains the need: "In the past year, we had to buy a new stove for St. Ann's Church, really depleting our budget, and two of the churches that donated money to us no longer do." For the first time, the SLP needs to solicit cash donations from the public.

Perhaps because it serves everyone in the community with no questions asked and no expectations, the Sunday lunches at St. Ann's attract a lot of regulars, who appreciate the program because it provides them with an opportunity to socialize and to have a sense of belonging. The food's good, too.

-- Jessica Henry

The Sunday Lunch Program serves food every

Sunday at 1 pm at St. Ann's Church and Rectory,

2120 E. First Ave. Free. Call: 624-0550.

American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19
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