Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, May 1, 2014
“Dinner is Served”
Deer Isle community supper serves healthy dose of local food, good spirits
From left, Andrea Wallsten, Ada Weed, Cheryl Wixson and Tricia Small prepare dinner for close to 200 on Monday, April 28, 2014 at St. Brendan’s the Navigator Episcopal Church in Deer Isle, Maine.
by Faith DeAmbrose
With roast pork in the oven, sliced carrots marinating with a hint of maple syrup, smashed potatoes and pumpkin cheesecake wafting through the air, close to a dozen volunteers put together dinner for 200 on Monday, April 28. The ingredients were (mostly) all local and were rounded out by fresh linen table cloths and napkins and flowers grown by islander Mary Cevasco.
“Dinner is Served,” a nonprofit community supper served at the Parish Hall of St. Brendan’s the Navigator Episcopal Church in Deer Isle grew in a grassroots way, explained Tricia Small, who, along with Cheryl Wixson, leads the monthly meal planning—helped out by dozens of willing hands and the board of trustees of the church.
Either dine in or take out, the experience is not one you might expect at first blush. Free and open to anyone in the community, diners sit at a table, place a drink order and then are served a from-scratch home cooked meal.
The sixth dinner since November, the group aims at one a month. “We serve dinner that islanders are used to,” said Small as she helps volunteer Ada Weed prepare some fresh whipped cream. Weed has been making food for the meal since its inception.
There is always a vegetarian choice and even for those eating gluten free, a meal can be created. Volunteer Andrea Wallsten has been helping since January. She, herself, has a gluten allergy and wears gloves as she places rolls into the 85 boxes that are being delivered to homes around the island.
Soon another group of volunteers will come and drive them to the homes. That is something that Diane Greenlaw does, after her first shift in the kitchen. She goes home-to-home, staying at some longer than others and typically ends her evening with a longer conversation.
On days when a meal is being prepared, a first wave of volunteers arrives around noon to help create the meals. Then a second group appears later in the day. This group led by Arlene Jones of the Deer Isle Sunset Congregational Church helps with the set up and the serving. Then there are others who deliver meals and then more that help clean up and break down the dinner service. Occasionally, said Small, high school students in need of additional community service hours will also drop in and help.
“When this building was being built,” said Wallsten, of the recent addition at the Episcopal church, “we asked what it should be used for and it’s really for the community.”
While the meal is housed in the church’s community room, it is open to all people, said Small, regardless of income level and religious preference. And, she added, just as much as it is about having a wholesome and nutritious meal, it is also about community building and having a space for that type of gathering.
Area farms have been responsive too, said Wixon, who explained that a commitment has been made to using local foods “grown by farmers we all know.” So far that has been successful. This week’s meal was served with food from the following farms: King Hill Farm, Poland Family Farm, Bagaduce Farm, Yellow Birch Farm, Rabbit Hill Farm and Spruce Hill Farm.
“This is the best farm to table dinner you can get, and it’s free,” said Wixon.
Follow Dinner is Served on Facebook at facebook.com/dinnerserved.
Monday, May 19, 4-6 p.m., Parish Hall at St. Brendan the Navigator Episcopal Church
Menu: Lobster mac and cheese, (locally sourced, of course), baked beans, spring salad and rhubarb apple crisp.