Volunteers deliver hundreds of meals throughout the St. Louis area as food prices skyrocket

FLORISSANT — After 16 years of serving hundreds of Thanksgiving meals to hundreds of homes across the region, Rob Proffitt knows that the service, a tradition of St. Andrew United Methodist Church here, isn’t really about the food itself.

“You go out and talk to the people you reach out to and what you discover is that the meal itself is just a mechanism to connect with people,” said Proffitt, a member who has volunteered for the event for 16 years. The role of the Final Four as its main organizer.

“What it really offers is hope.”

This was the 27th year that the Profett family and dozens of other volunteers from St. Andrew’s and other local groups served hundreds of meals to people in need across the region over the Thanksgiving weekend.

St. Patrick’s Center in downtown St. Louis, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Mahleville, Faith Lutheran Church in O’Fallon, Illinois, and Afton Christian Church in southern St. Louis County. In recent days, organizations like the Salvation Army, Urban League, Operation Food Search, St. Louis Area Foodbank distributes hundreds of meals.

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Profitt said the volunteers, like other groups, have responded to requests for help more often than in recent years.

“The need is greater this year because of inflation and the price of everything,” he said.

What began in 1995 when parishioners served a few dozen meals to elderly residents of the former Wellington Arms Living Center on New Halls Ferry Road, has grown into a tradition serving hundreds of families in need across St. Louis County, St. Charles County, St. City of Lewis and Madison County.

“There are people we’ve been serving for 15 years,” Proffitt said.

It now includes more than 30 volunteers from three local churches, four school districts and two businesses: Cooking with Savory in Florissant and Soulcial Kitchen, from Swansea.

They served meals on Wednesdays at the Salvation Army’s Community Empowerment Center in Ferguson, in partnership with the United Church of Christ, at the Salvation Army’s Family Sanctuary, an emergency shelter, and at three senior centers. On Thursday, they delivered more than 500 homes.

Some of the deliveries were to persons who would normally find a meal at another annual church supper, at St. Ferdinand’s in Florissant. The tradition, which began in 1999 following a visit from Pope John Paul II, was scrapped this year due to a year-round lack of volunteers who helped plan the event, which draws hundreds of diners annually to the parish school gymnasium.

Profitt said they usually try to keep deliveries within 500.

“But we kept getting more calls,” he said, “and we just couldn’t say no.”

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