Saturday Community Lunches

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food shelfST. JOHNSBURY- Some may connect the face of Daisy McCoy to a classroom, math problems, and homework. Others may connect her face to a delicious, warm, and satisfying meal.

McCoy has worked at the college for 23 years, where she has not only been dedicated to furthering student's knowledge of mathematics, but to filling the stomachs for those in need as well.

McCoy is currently on the board for Kingdom Community Services, and organizes a community lunch every Saturday. After starting this event, McCoy always remembers the one moment when she realized why it was all worth it.

"This one man, who hasn't been there recently, actually said, 'You know, I'm so glad you started this, because before you started this, I did not eat on the weekends'... and this makes you think, yeah, this is important to do."

At the Universalist Church in St. Johnsbury, McCoy and other volunteers work together to serve the community from 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. "We feed around thirty people each Saturday."

In past years, community lunches were only available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during those same hours. However, McCoy and another woman from the organization had proposed the idea of opening up a Saturday lunch. "There was no place to eat on the weekends... and my friend was really concerned about children not having a good food source on the weekend."

The food that is given during the community lunches is food that Daisy McCoy picks up from Sodexo, the dining service of Lyndon State College. McCoy sets aside her time and picks up twice a week, usually on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. The agreement first started three years ago when Aramark was the dining service at the college.

Over the past three years, the extra food being picked up at the end of each evening was enough to serve thirty people during the weekends and still let them take home leftovers. Some donations, such as dairy, vegetables and bread that go toward the community lunches come from White's Market in St. Johnsbury. The food shelf in St. Johnsbury also contributes to the lunches on weekends by donating any excess they might have, such as Cabot cheese.

"Maybe 80% are reasonably regular people and then we'll have new people we've never seen before. Sometimes, they'll be people passing through town that need a good, hot meal... And it seemed a shame for all the food to be thrown away with people that are hungry. And I do enjoy meeting the people, getting to know the people, it's become a family between the volunteers and the regulars... sometimes people say, 'Where's so and so?' and 'I hope so and so is okay,'" explains McCoy.

Though 23 years of Daisy McCoy's life has been put towards teaching, a much larger amount has been put towards her volunteerism in the community. From back when she lived in Atlanta and was enrolled in high school, she had a heart for volunteering. Taking a position in an inter-city program that was organized by churches, McCoy used to fill numerous wagons up with toys. With those wagons, she traveled to housing projects on Saturdays and spent hours on end playing with the children who lived there. "We'd go and then the children would see us out the windows. They'd all come down and we'd play with them," McCoy reminisces.

As time went on, so did Daisy's heart to help out. She had even inspired some of her students to volunteer. Recently, she had some of her students help harvest some corn for the local food shelf from a local farmer who had 10 acres of corn. In past years, she also had students collect garden produce from the faculty and staff. This was then made into pasta sauce that was frozen and used for the food shelf when needed.

During a trip to Guatemala to study Mayan mathematics, she also talks about how she's seen those in need in a different country, "One time I was eating lunch from a local market and there was a man going from garbage can to garbage can. I gave him some of my fruit and he went immediately back to the garbage for more food, he didn't want to waste it... In the world of all the food we got, there shouldn't have to be people who have to go through the garbage can in what people are throwing away."

She's currently on the board for Neskaya Movement Arts which is a movement arts center. The center organizes circle dances and occasionally, McCoy will organize a circle dance in this area where many will dance to raise money for the kitchen in order to help fund renovations. With these renovations, McCoy hopes the kitchen will be more functional for community lunches.

For about six years, McCoy was President of Kingdom Community Services. Kingdom Community Services offers a number of ways to take action and help out in the community. Many of these can be done by volunteering at their food shelf, thrift store, various community lunches, and even by participating during Christmas time to provide a Christmas gift to children and the elderly who are not fortunate enough to receive them.