- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MONROE, Mich. (AP) - Nine years and 500,000 meals.

It’s a milestone Jeff Weaver never expected to reach when the God Works! Family Soup Kitchen served its first meal.

“What makes it special for me is that I had no idea the program would take off the way it did,” the Monroe resident told the Monroe News ( https://bit.ly/1dyl36Q ).

A ceremony will be held April 16 at St. Joseph Catholic Church to mark the 500,000th meal served by the organization since the meals for the needy and homeless began in October 2005.

Among those expected to attend are Lillian Williamson, coordinator of the meal at St. Joseph’s, and members of the board of directors for the soup kitchen program.

Weaver, director of the program, said it has come a long way since the first meal was served at St. Paul United Methodist Church nine years ago.

“It started with three friends who volunteered at the Salvation Army and wanted to do more for (the less fortunate). It’s really grown.”

Other churches had been serving meals for the less fortunate at the time but the need grew as the economy worsened. Some of those churches still serve meals separate from God Works!

Meanwhile, God Works!, a nonprofit organization, has grown to oversee 13 free weekly meals for low-income families in the Monroe County area.

The group serves meals every day of the week as far south as Crossroads Church in Ottawa Lake to as far north as the First Congregational Church of Christ in Flat Rock.

“It’s all because the community gets behind us,” he said. “That’s what makes the whole program work.”

Other meals are held in Bedford Township, Dundee, Ida, Monroe and Newport.

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Information from: Monroe News, https://www.monroenews.com

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