Meadville Tribune

December 23, 2013

Christmas dinner patrons should see smoother service at FCCA this year

By Mary Spicer
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — Demand isn’t expected to exceed the 550-plus Thanksgiving turkey dinners served less than a month ago, but when doors open Wednesday for the  annual Christmas dinner at Family & Community Christian Association, the all-volunteer workforce will be ready to hit the road running.

The menu for the free, open-to-the-public buffet-style feast will feature ham and turkey — a total of 14 each, if anyone’s counting. Then there’s stuffing. Noodles and cabbage with kielbasa. Meatballs. Baked beans. Vegetables. And, of course, the usual assortment of desserts — including countless varieties of pie.

What those gathering to dine at the 378 Chestnut St. location will not find, according to Bill Foster, the Meadville resident who has shepherded the annual production of community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for more than three decades, is the lengthy wait that greeted participants gathering for this year’s Thanksgiving feast.

“I think we’ve got it figured out,” Foster said Monday. For starters, delivery of take-out dinners ordered in advance will begin earlier. Logistical issues surrounding the distribution of more than 200 dinners throughout the county that emerged as a result of the re-purposing of the facility’s former conference room into office space during the past year have been worked out. And this time, kitchen volunteers will be cooking on a dependable stove.

The annual dinners are both free and open to the public. As in everyone. No income guidelines or restrictions, or restrictions of any kind, for that matter. For Foster, the whole point is that no one should ever have to eat Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner alone.

The commercial stove, a model that may well have cooked the organization’s first holiday dinner 30-something years ago, was on its last legs at Thanksgiving, Foster recalled. Thanks in part to generous gifts from Meadville’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2006 and its color guard, however, a new, stainless steel, 10-burner model was installed Friday and is now ready to cook up a storm.

“It’s going to help so many people,” Foster added. “Thirty years from now it’s still going to be benefiting the community.”

You can attend

Christmas dinner will be served Wednesday beginning at noon at Family & Community Christian Association, 378 Chestnut St., Meadville. The dinner is free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at