The Vermillion Welcome Table has opened their doors to anyone who may want a free, hot meal on Mondays for the last 20 years. Due to the importance of safety in the Vermillion community amidst COVID-19, they have had to adjust operations.
The Welcome Table is a volunteer program that feeds the community of Vermillion. It occurs every Monday evening from 5-7 pm. It is located in the Community Connections Center (CCC) on Court Street.
Right now, the Welcome Table is only doing curbside pickup for those who still want a meal. A station is located outside of the CCC where volunteers can leave food for people coming to pick it up.
Leader and coordinator of the Welcome Table, John Lushbough, said the food pantry started 20 years ago as a simple idea, but now it has grown and developed over the years.
“In the beginning we really focused on the meal that we were providing but as it went on it became really important to us that the emphasis should be on the welcome rather than the table,” Lushbough said.
The Welcome Table is exactly what it sounds like, Lushbough said — welcoming.
“We try our best to be welcoming and a lot of times we just want to get to know the people in the community and learn how we can help them, we have never turned anybody down,” Lushbough said.
In Spring the Welcome Table closed for several months due to the pandemic. Lushbough said he and his volunteers knew the community was affected by them closing. He said he knew they needed to find a way to still provide services.
Dennis Davis, long-time volunteer of the Welcome Table, said if there was ever a need for a hot free meal — it would be now.
“For some people this is the only hot meal they get because sadly there is food insecurity in our community,” Davis said.
Davis said The Welcome Table is not only a place where people can receive a free meal, but it is also a place where people can engage with each other and get more involved in the community.
Kathy Husby, core team volunteer, said that the Welcome Table really tries to focus on making connections with people that come in.
“We provide a free meal for people and that might be initially what gets them to come, but for some, it feeds their soul and spirit when they continuously make connections with other people around them,” Husby said.
This was a large factor in this decision to reopen the Welcome Table, Davis said.
“Not having the Welcome Table for a few months was really odd for those of us who have been coming for so long. For many volunteers and people who attend, the Welcome Table was an open, consistent place that people could depend on,” Davis said.
This week the Welcome Table served pork loin sandwiches and hotdogs along with coleslaw, potato chips, bananas and a dessert at this week’s pick up dinner. For more information and weekly updates on menu items visit the Vermillion Welcome Table page on Facebook page.