Rev. Dr. Mark E. Hecht and Jon Swart of First United Methodist Church.

Giving Back: First Methodist Church in Warren Launching Monday Meal Program

September 29, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – Inspired by faith and the desire to help others, the Monday Nite Meal Program has been born at First Methodist Church in Warren.

The meal program will begin on Oct. 16 and run every Monday. It was born out of the sermon series at First United, specifically Matthew 25.

“This whole process was driven by prayer,” said Rev. Dr. Mark E. Hecht. “We’re doing it because we’ve been called to care for those in need.”

The meals will be served from 4:30 to 6 p.m. every Monday at the church. Week 1 of every month will be “Gramma’s Comfort Food,” which features home cooked meals. Week 2 will be “Picnic Time,” which features tailgate goodies. Week 3 will be “Global Goodness,” which will feature international foods. Week 4 will be “Delicious Duets,” which will feature soups, sandwiches and salads, and Week 5 will be chef’s choice.

“The common denominator is how we can help those in the community,” said Jon Swart. “This has really been in motion since the spring, with a lot of planning and organization. There have been numerous planning sessions.”

First United picked Monday night because those were unfilled in the community. St. Joseph’s does a Tuesday meal, while The Salvation Army does a Wednesday meal and First Presbyterian a Thursday meal.

“We’re thankful for other groups in the community that are participating,” Swart said.

There are four different teams at the church volunteering (one for each week), made up of approximately 50 total volunteers.

“It’s entirely volunteer-based, except for our cook,” Swart said. “It’s something tangible, something we can do. People have responded happily, joyfully to volunteer.”

And it’s a program that every part of the church has had a hand in facilitating.

“It really has been a united team effort with all of the committees in the church getting involved,” Hecht said.

The meal program will be a true dining experience, complete with greeters and hosts.

“We have qualified people with backgrounds in food service, meal prep and purchasing,” Swart said.

The meals will be served on the second floor of the church, complete with handicap accessibility and accommodations.

“In order to make it available to the community, we’ve made some minor alterations to the church,” said United Methodist secretary Barbara Young.

And it’s all to help our fellow neighbors who need a hand.

“None of this would be possible without prayer,” Hecht said. “We’ve made an investment in the community with the man hours and the financial support, but really it’s all about putting words to action.”

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