Dinner on 17th Street in Parsons ending, other services starting to fill the void

Different church picking up monthly dinner

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 23 percent of people in Parsons, Kansas are living in poverty.

So, everyone… especially those who are young and old, need all the help they can get.

“I believe at least 66 percent of our local Parsons households the students receive free and reduced lunches. And I think that maybe outdated… I think it’s actually higher,” says Lee Ann Spencer with the Labette Assistance Center.

The Labette Assistance Center helps those in need with things like food and other necessities.

“We also provide resource information for other services within the community. Such as the community dinner. It was one of our favorites,” explains Spencer.

But, that community dinner, called dinner on 17th street is coming to an end on December 20th.

“It’s very sad… you don’t want to see something that’s been going on for so long end,” says Spencer.

The weekly free dinner was started in 2008 and has grown to serve more than 100 people every week.

Three years ago, it was taken over by Tim and Amy Reynolds at Parsons Foursquare Church.

The pastor of the church says a lack of volunteers has made it hard.

“Maybe they could fix the meal, but then they didn’t have enough to serve the meal,” says Steve Shulze. “And so, our groups and our numbers have gone down as far as help goes, and it’s just come to a point this last year, where it’s just better to look other directions to help people.”

Shari Coatney, CEO of Skil Resource Center in Parsons says their customers depend on the meal, and that they will miss it a lot.

“It’s really a sad thing that it’s ending. They look forward to going every week… and since they are on low or fixed incomes, a hot meal is usually few and far between,” Coatney says in a phone interview.

Tim and Amy are now working to expand the food pantry at the church, and they will start running the Kansas Food Bank’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program, designed to help people over 60.

“Hopefully that’s gonna be a bigger blessing to people with the food help that they’re gonna get on a monthly basis,” says Shulze.

And Spencer has some more good news.

“We were thankful to hear that Wesley United Methodist Church will begin hosting a once a month dinner on the final Thursday of the month,” says Spencer.

So those in need, at least once a month, will still have a place to get a hot meal.

“That’s great. If someone else can take it on and facilitate it, that’s wonderful,” says Shulze.

And Coatney says over the phone that she is glad to hear about all of the new services in the small community.

Dinner on 17th Street will happen the next two Thursdays, and then the first three Thursdays in December.

The Wesley United Methodist Church plans to start its monthly service on January 23rd.


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