(Photo by Ellen Macdonald)
(Photo by Ellen Macdonald)
Each third Thursday of the month, for just over a year, the Decorah Community Meal has brought together people from all walks of life to enjoy a free, quality meal and social time in the fellowship hall of First Lutheran Church.

Along the way, numerous individuals, community groups, organizations and businesses have stepped in to keep DCM running, providing food, volunteers, financial support, storage space, transportation, time and encouragement.

Restaurant owner Jim McCaffrey and his team at Dolce Vita have been instrumental in the meal's launching and on-going success, generously donating the main entrée every month, often including breads and vegetables.

Each month's "sponsor" group then rounds out the meal with salads and desserts, and also supplies two teams of volunteers to set up, to replenish serving tables and to clean up.

The meal has served anywhere from 90 to 190 people each month and the participation of the sponsoring group is an essential ingredient.

New development

Now, in an exciting development, a previous meal sponsor has offered to provide the support for a second community meal.

Sodexo-Luther College Purchasing Manager Curtis Raddatz and his Norse culinary team provided salads and desserts for the May 2012 meal, and Raddatz mentioned his organization's willingness to contribute to the community effort on a continuing basis.

When the DCM organizing committee recently grew with the addition of enthusiastic members from First United Methodist Church intent on adding a second community meal, planners realized the time had come.

Earlier this month, committee member Otter Dreaming met with Raddatz and Wayne Tudor, general manager of Luther dinig services and "head coach" of the Norse Culinary Team, to discuss the community meal and how Sodexo might contribute to it. Tudor and Raddatz made an offer similar to McCaffrey's: to donate the main entrée and bread for a second community meal each month, while the DCM organizing committee arranges for volunteers to provide salads, desserts and servers.

Inaugural contribution

In the spirit of the Sodexo Foundation's work to end childhood hunger, and to participate in the Foundation's Servathon month of April, the Norse culinary team's inaugural contribution will include not only the main entrée and bread, but the salads and desserts as well.

Not content to stop there, Tudor and Raddatz will also arrange to fill some of the volunteer positions from the Luther neighborhood to set up and serve the April meal, underscoring the sincerity of Raddatz's words, "Thank you for this opportunity to help in serving the community. We are very much looking forward to this partnership with the Community Meal."

New schedule

The DCM organizing committee announces its new schedule: The Decorah Community Meal is held twice monthly on the first and third Thursdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall of First Lutheran Church, 604 West Broadway, Decorah. The next meals are April 4, with Sodexo-Luther College Norse Culinary Team, and April 18, with McCaffrey's Dolce Vita. All are welcome.

Groups, businesses, churches or civic organizations would like to participate in the Decorah Community Meal, send a message to decorahcommunitymeal@gmail.com.

During Sodexo Servathon, held each April, employees join forces globally to volunteer and serve meals, raise funds, and donate food to hunger relief organizations in their local communities.

For more information about the Sodexo Foundation, go to sodexofoundation.org/.