After ten and one-half years and coordinating 107,000 meals, Jean Tucker is stepping down from Feeding Families In His Name.
The ministry provides food to anyone on Wednesday evenings at the First United Methodist Church, Third Street and National Avenue, and Tucker has been the coordinator since its beginning.
The meal is provided for free to all who would like it.
“It’s for anybody,” Tucker said. “We’ve had new families drive through every week. It’s a free meal for the community.”
“Recently we have had caregivers who are worn down, and this (meal) is such a relief,” she said. “It’s for anyone who wants a warm home-cooked meal.”
The last meal that Tucker will coordinate is December 8.
That is 80th Tucker’s birthday.
“I am giving myself a birthday present,” she said. “That doesn’t mean I won’t have anything to do with the meal, I just won’t be responsible.”
“I ask that if you have any questions or contributions for Feeding Families In His Name that you contact the church office at 620.223.1950,” Tucker said. “The church secretary will direct your call to the appropriate person.”
Pastor Christopher Eshelman, Tom Braker and Bonnie Milburn have agreed to coordinate after Dec. 8, Tucker said.
Joey Beerbower will be in charge of the paper goods and Tom Coyan will be in charge of the kitchen and the commodities.
Over ten years ago Braker, along with Doug Altic saw a need to help families stretch their food budgets, she said. “Koyle Link, Don Tucker, Deborah Wood, Tom Braker and myself were on the original committee.”
“They went to the pastor at the time, Paul Babcock, then they called an emergency meeting and the administration board voted and approved unanimously to start the program,” Tucker said. “They were the impetus.”
“This has been God’s doing,” Tucker said. “We provide this meal because of God’s love.”
The first meal served 45 people, including the volunteer helpers, now 300 to 350 people being served on Wednesday evenings.
“We started to-go meals in March 2020 because of the pandemic and the numbers increased,” she said. “We don’t think we could go back to getting that many in our church basement.”
Several organizations cook for the meals.
The first Wednesday of each month, the St. Martin’s Academy students cook; on the second Wednesday, Community Christian Church and First United Methodist alternate cooking; on the third week, a Fort Scott Church of the Nazarene small group cook; on the fourth week, the Presbyterian Church cooks and on any fifth Wednesday, the Pioneer Kiwanis Club cooks. Fulton United Methodist Church cooks to fill in when others can’t, she said.
“Every week 15-20 people bake desserts for us,” she said.
Tucker said she is retiring because she is weary of the weekly repsoniblity, but is confident the ministry will continue.