By Tia Lynn Ivey
For the entire month of April, the First United Methodist Church of Madison and Amici’s Italian Cafe are partnering to feed people in need as the rampant coronavirus has not only caused severe illnesses across the state and country, but has put millions of people out of work. Every Monday to Friday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., people can pickup prepared meals in the Methodist Church parking lot, located between Old Post Road and Academy Street in Madison.
FUMC is funding the program and serving the meals, while Amici’s is ordering the food at cost and preparing the meals.
“It’s a partnership,” said Margaret Ligon, director of communications for FUMC. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
FUMC voted to divert money from the church’s missions funds to pay for the new Weekday Meal program. The church anticipates spending $10,000 to $12,000 per week on the program, aiming to distribute 300 meals per day.
“They moved some of our money that we designated for missions into local missions for the COVID-19 crisis,” said Ligon.
“We at Amici are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this generosity from the First United Methodist Church to this community we love so much,” said Mike Torino, CEO of Amici Food Group. “And on top of that, we hope that other churches and other restaurants in different communities all over will hear about this and possibly be able to do something similar in their own communities, too. We are all in this together, and people can do incredible things when they work together.”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, FUMC has been looking for ways to help the local community.
“We are truly in unprecedented waters. There are so many people out of work and out of school and we know this will be helpful,” said Ligon. “One of the biggest needs that we saw was helping people get fed. That is what we are trying to do. We are just trying to love our neighbors and do what we can to help everyone get through this. For some people, getting through this means receiving a meal, for others it means being part of giving the meals. It will be a blessing to everyone involved.”
“We have a very giving church and are blessed to be able to help the community at a time when it is needed most,” said Butch Thompson, administrative director of FUMC.
According to Ligon, Amici’s will order the food and prepare the meals and then church volunteers will distribute the meals through two drive-thru lines and one walk-up line.
“We will have masks and gloves and encourage people to drive up so there is as little contact as possible,” said Ligon. “However, we expect there will be a lot of people coming for meals who don’t have vehicles so we wanted to have the walk up line to make sure those people are fed, too.”
Church leaders will reevaluate the program at the end of the month to decide if whether or not to extend it into May, if the pandemic has not subsided by then.
The church is also feeding healthcare workers, continuing the casserole ministry for those who cannot leave their homes, and will distribute a special Easter meal to families on the free and reduced school lunch program.
“The week of Easter we are sending home a box of food to everyone of those families for Easter weekend, so they will have a good meal for the Easter holiday,” said Ligon.
Ligon is proud of the church members for their generosity to make such a program possible.
“The members of our church have given money to help others,” said Ligon. “This is about a bunch of individuals helping a bunch of individuals. We are a blessed church to be able to do this and while we are not thrilled about the circumstances that have caused this need, we are glad to be able to be here when it is needed.”