Nonprofit Highlight: The Community Meal

Below is Barrington Area Volunteer Connection’s twelfth installment of their profile program, highlighting non-profits using BAVC for their volunteering needs. Keep reading for the profile of The Community Meal.

Interview with Sandy Hesse – Coordinator | The Community Meal

How did Community Meal evolve? 
My daughter, Mary Sandner, and I attended a church board meeting. The idea of a meal came up and she and I organized the first meal in May 2009. I came from a large family that showed hospitality to everyone. The Community Meal is just an extension of that.
How did the program handle the challenges during Covid, as far as your services, volunteers, etc?
With God’s help, we handled The Community Meal by offering a drive-thru option instead of a sit-down meal. We follow all the CDC guidelines, food safety requirements, and contactless serving. Our volunteers are required to wear masks, gloves, follow social distancing and extra cleaning processes.
How do you utilize volunteers in your organization? 

The Community Meal is a volunteer organization for everyone. Our goal is to utilize our volunteers in a way that is best suited for them. If they like to lead groups, you can oversee and guide volunteers with all the tasks needed to feed 250 people in a drive-thru format. If they like to bake, they can prepare 100 cookies, individually wrap them and deliver them to the host site. Cooking teams prepare main entrees on the day before a meal. Other responsibilities include logistics, computer skills, scheduling, and more.

What tips do you have for new or existing volunteers?
We encourage volunteers to come out and meet new people. Serve alongside someone you have never met. They may become lifelong friends. Try new tasks and learn from others. You will see the faces of those benefiting from your volunteering and that may change your life.
What advice would you give to other nonprofits that need to make use of volunteers?
Find out what your volunteers really enjoy at your non-profit and let them grow into that position. They will find ways to improve your processes or look at areas with fresh creative ideas.
Are there any new initiatives coming up for Community Meal? 
Our new initiative in 2021 is frozen crockpot meals. We will be testing this ministry in May in the Wauconda area. In addition to folks getting a warm, nutritious meal they will be offered a frozen crockpot meal to make later in the week. In addition, we hope to serve even more people in 2021 by reaching the Carpentersville and Wauconda neighborhoods.
Photos included in this article are volunteers & participants from the last Community Meal at Messiah Lutheran Church, Wauconda.


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