The Neighborhood Table is a community meal/soup kitchen program for those in need of a free meal, or the companionship of others to share a meal.
The idea for The Neighborhood Table started in 2000 when Ginny Steen, our founder, was at a church in Waupaca, Wisconsin. She saw a tent sign promoting “The Bread Basket” that supplied a meal to anyone each week. She asked the pastor for more information, and he explained they had started it because of the need in their community. Ginny felt there was a need for a similar program in the Wisconsin Rapids area, so she sent requests to several local churches. At that time, there appeared to be no interest in starting the program so Ginny let the idea go.
Then in 2003, Ginny’s granddaughter, Katelynn Morrison, visited friends in the Fox Valley area and they all helped at the local soup kitchen as part of her visit. When she returned home, Katelyn told her Grandma about the trip and said, “Grammy, remember that soup kitchen thing you tried to start a few years ago? Well, I think you should try it again.”
Soon thereafter, Ginny wrote letters to the four churches surrounding the post office which is the central location in Wisconsin Rapids. Economic times had changed and there was immediate interest and response. Ginny also wrote to the Community Foundation of South Wood County (now the Incourage Foundation) and received a $1,000 start-up grant. After several meetings with interested people, combined with local newspaper coverage, The Neighborhood Table project was off the ground and running. The first meal was served on December 31, 2003, to about 55 people.
Initially meals were served twice per month, but as attendance grew so did the frequency of our meals. We now serve meals every Thursday and the last two Tuesdays of the month.
Through the help of our dedicated volunteers, no one will go hungry if we can help it. We try to reach as many people as we can and hope that those who need our services come to our meals.