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Milton couple’s weekly meal helps feed body and spirit

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Stacy Vogel
December 26, 2009
— The snow and ice was piling up around Mary and Joseph in the manger Wednesday outside First United Methodist Church.

But the church comm on room was warm and bright as people from all walks of life gathered for their free weekly meal.


“We don’t like to cancel,” said Jennifer Lowry of Milton. “If we can feed a few people, that’s good enough.”


Jennifer moved around the dining room, pouring coffee, hot chocolate and juice, greeting old friends and meeting new ones.


Her husband, Rick, concentrated on three large hams glazed with cherries and brown sugar.


“Give them all that they want,” he instructed a server. “They ask for more, you give ’em more. They don’t ask for more, you give ’em more anyway.”


Whether it’s food, time or love, Rick and Jennifer Lowry like to give. That’s what led them and the Rev. John Wells of First United Methodist Church of Fort Atkinson to start Feed Your Soul, a free weekly meal and worship service.


The Lowrys moved to Milton from Fort Atkinson five years ago, but they still attend their Fort Atkinson church.


Wells had talked about holding a community dinner for several months last year, and he got serious about it last fall when the economy collapsed.


The Lowrys both work in the food industry. They thought about it and told the pastor they thought they could make it a monthly event.


Wells told them he had been thinking about a weekly meal.


“We were like, ‘Every week?’” Rick said. “No way. Can’t be done.”


But God has provided, Jennifer said.


A freewill offering at the meal pays for about half of its expenses. The rest comes from private donations.


“Meal-maker” groups, such as Bible-study groups, Sunday school classes and local Boy Scout troops, prepare the meal each week after the Lowrys plan the menu and buy the food.


Lately, the freewill offerings have been covering fewer expenses, and the event has been serving more people than ever, Jennifer said.


About 100 people a week receive the free meal now, up from 30 or 40 when it began in October 2008. Feed Your Soul has served about 3,500 meals since its inception.


The diners come alone and in groups. Some don’t have enough to eat at home, while others enjoy the fellowship. Many live by themselves, while others live in group homes.


“There are some families that come, and then there are some people who come who are starting to think of this as their family,” Wells said.


A group comes each week from a nearby senior complex. They sat at two tables Wednesday, enjoying the food and company.


“It’s fun,” said Sue Tuttle of Fort Atkinson. “The food is good. You meet new people.”


Crystal Lurvey of Fort Atkinson brings her two children because it’s one night a week she doesn’t have to cook, she said.


Her 6-year-old daughter, Breanna Sinay, said she likes coming to Feed Your Soul.


“It’s nice to be here because there’s people you can meet and make friends with,” she said.


The Lowrys have been blessed by the program, too, Jennifer said.


“When we first started, this was in my mind all about the people we’re serving,” she said. “But I get so much more back …


“The real message is we just want people to know that God loves them.”


Feed Your Soul


Feed Your Soul is a free weekly meal and worship service at 5:30 Wednesdays at First United Methodist Church, 320 S. Main St., Fort Atkinson. This Wednesday, the program will celebrate a year of serving and 3,500 meals served with a special meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pie.


To learn more or to donate, visit fysoul.com or call Rick and Jennifer Lowry at (608) 868-9034.



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