Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – New Ipswich Congregational Church Community Suppers Return for Autumn
Monadnock Ledger – Transcript
Posted: 09/21/2022 1:36:47 PM
The smell of cooking lasagna fills the air in the basement of the New Ipswich Congregational Church as volunteers prepare a long table with a hearty, home-cooked community meal – a longstanding tradition at the church that has nearly fell by the wayside after being put on hiatus due to COVID-19.
Donna Connors from New Ipswich moved to town with her husband in 2018, and one of the first relationships they established was with a new church. Connors’ husband began volunteering at church community suppers, which were usually held on Wednesday evenings.
When March 2020 hit and COVID-19 restrictions limited activities with large crowds, dinner parties were put on hold, Connors said. But when those restrictions eased, the usual dinner cooks, who had hosted the weekly event for many years, were ready to step down, at least for a less intensive role, she explained.
Connors, not wanting to see the tradition end for good, especially in the wake of COVID-19 when many people weren’t going out and interacting with each other, and had commercial cooking experience, said that she would intervene.
“I believe it was God who told me to do it. He put it in my ear,” Connors said. “It’s about getting people out and bringing them together. Especially since times are so tough these days – food is expensive.
Dinners resumed in February, on Mondays, and continued through June before being put on hiatus for the summer. But since September 12, they have returned. Connors is joined in the kitchen by fellow volunteers Wendy Grippardi, Margie Whitson and Val Kottle.
The dinners are hearty. Monday dinner included lasagna, macaroni and cheese, salad and dessert. Offers for future meals include dishes like chicken parmesan, tacos, spaghetti, beef stew, shepherd’s pie, soup and sandwiches.
“We make sure no one leaves hungry,” Connors said.
The diner typically serves between 25 and 30 people each week, including many seniors, Connors said. There’s no requirement to be a church member to attend dinner, and many regulars don’t attend, but it’s its own little community, with people often lingering after the meal. to discuss and for their children to play in the church playground.
Whitson said the weekly dinner is often a social time for those who attend.
“There are people who don’t always get a home-cooked meal,” Whitson said. “It’s a way for them to get that.”
“I think the older you get, the more community you need,” Connors said. “And for young people, it’s good that they come to see people of all kinds come together and get along.
The New Ipswich Congregational Church holds its community supper every Monday evening, beginning at 6 p.m., at the church, located at 156 Main Street. There is no charge and all are welcome.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or [email protected] She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.