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First Lutheran Volunteers Recognized for 22 Years of Serving Meals at Matt Talbot Kitchen

By April 20, 2023May 1st, 2023Hunger & Clothing, News, Serve
In 2001, former Associate Pastor Griffith started a new ministry at First Lutheran when he committed our church community to serve lunch once a month at Matt Talbot Kitchen. As the Team Lead, Pastor Griffith recruited a team of members to help him prepare and serve the lunch. In early 2006, Pastor Griffith left First Lutheran and passed the baton as Team Lead off to member, Steve Lenzen. Seventeen years later, Steve is still serving as the Team Lead for First Lutheran recruiting volunteers to donate food, helping prepare the meal and serving it to guests at Matt Talbot.
At least 25-30 First Lutheran members contribute fruit or dessert for the meal that is served every third Tuesday of the month. On Monday, the day before the meal is served, eight members, known as the Carrot Therapy Group, gather to peel and slice fresh carrots while other members help prepare the rest of the meal. On Tuesday, a core group of six members are always on-site to help Steve serve the lunch at Matt Talbot.
Prior to the pandemic, First Lutheran consistently provided 160+ servings each month. Today, 125 -140 servings are provided. During the pandemic, Matt Talbot Kitchen served all the meals in “to go” boxes. Currently, most of the meals are served on-site; however, people can still ask for “to go” boxes. A number of individuals ask for their second serving in “to go” boxes to take home as a meal for that evening or the next day.
Matt Talbot does surveys asking their guests to rank the meals served and the First Lutheran meatloaf meal always rates very high! They appreciate receiving a serving of meat and the fresh carrots are a favorite over the canned vegetables typically served by other groups. We are thankful for a First Lutheran member who is willing to donate the beef for the meatloaf!
Steve grew up in a family with three brothers and three sisters on a farm in Western Nebraska. While the family always had plenty to eat, Steve remembers one time being scared there would not be enough to eat. Many years later he heard his mother visiting with her brothers about times when their parents did not eat dinner so the kids would have food to eat. Within the past couple of years, Steve’s older brother shared that he went hungry when they were kids and Steve can see how this has affected him 60+ years later.
Even though the meal isn’t servedl until 11:30 am, Steve is at Matt Talbot Kitchen when the doors open at 9:00 am and a lot of guests arrive early with him who are hungry. He’s had enough interaction with the individuals who come for a meal to develop more empathy and to be less judgmental.
Steve shares, “I cannot imagine the emotional stress on someone really experiencing hunger or the parent who is not able to provide for their children. I just strongly believe there is no reason for anyone in the USA or anywhere in the world to go hungry.”
Steve and the team of First Lutheran volunteers were featured yesterday by Channel 10/11 in their Volunteer Appreciation Week segment. Take a moment and hear the story of how Steve has led First Lutheran through 17 years of serving at least 204 meals to those who are hungry in Lincoln. Thank you, Steve, and to all the volunteers who support this important ministry at First Lutheran and in the community of Lincoln!
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