September 18, 2020

Mission 66 Diner in need of assistance to continue serving hungry Mississippians

No one is ever turned away at the Mission 66 Diner.

“All you have to do is walk through the door,” Salvation Army social service worker Valerie Cook said of the lunches that are provided by the SA of Vicksburg.

However, these free meals are only being offered to those in need a few days out of the month, currently, so the SA is seeking churches and or organizations to help fill in the gaps.

Presently meals are being offered three Mondays out of the month, every Tuesday, and second Wednesdays at 530 Mission 66 and are being provided by three local churches and the SA Women’s Auxiliary.

Peggy Gouras, who is a member of the First Presbyterian Church and is a volunteer who helps provide meals, said the SA lunch offerings started in 2005 after a couple who fled to the River City due to Hurricane Katrina saw a need.

“Because of them, we began to organize teams,” Gouras said, and served meals five days a week. But now services are limited.

“So we are desperate for teams, because we have people show up for lunch and there is no lunch,” Gouras said.

A team from First Presbyterian prepares the meals that are served on Tuesdays, and Gouras said the group had been doing it since its inception.

“This is a wonderful ministry and a much needed ministry,” she said.

“And I always say there are two sides to the counter — one wing to serve and one wing to be fed,” Gouras said.

The number of people being served at each feeding averages between 60 to 80 people, Cook said.

“We never know how many and that’s a challenge, but there is always fishes and loaves. Nobody ever goes hungry we always have enough,” Gouras said, and added that their group has it “down to a science.”

“We use the ABC method. For A, one person once a month brings all the appliances. That’s the cups, paper plates, napkins and forks. The B brings bread and beverage, C brings the casseroles, D is dessert and devotional, E is the extras and that is the sides and F is friend of casserole, so he helps the casserole person and there’s your meal,” Gouras said.

Cook said she welcomes any and all groups who would like to provide assistance, and for those interested, they will need to prepare and finance the entire meal.

Meals can be prepared on site at the SA facility, Cook said, or at a different location and then brought in.

In addition to the meal, volunteer groups may also need to provide the paper products for the meal, but if the SA has extra they can use what is in house.

“If there is something here that they can use, they are more than welcome to use it,” Cook said. “Most of the time we order extra plates and utensils.”

And for organizations that may be sponsoring an event where there is leftover food, Cook said, they are welcome to call her because she could use the excess to help provide meals.

“Last week, the Vicksburg Convention Center had a function, and they had more than enough food left over, so I picked it up on Thursday and had people to help me serve on Friday.”

For more information or to volunteer to provide meals for the Mission 66 Diner, call 601-636-2706.

This story was originally published by The Vicksburg Post.