When Lisa Grover is cooking a meal for someone, she lifts that person up in prayer.

She is one of the parishioners of St. Peter Church in Vergennes who helps prepare meals when the elderly, homebound, sick, caregivers or anyone who for any reason appreciates having a meal or meals delivered.

“For some of the folks, when was the last time they had something hot prepared for them with love?” Grover wondered. “Knowing that a loving pair of hands made that meal for you makes it much better, especially in an era of fast food.”

Sometimes, she added, “I love you” is not said in words but “making something to eat is a way of expressing love.”

Grover, director of youth ministry and faith formation for St. Peter’s and for Bristol’s St. Ambrose Church, involves the confirmation students at St. Peter’s in making the meals — and learning a life skill — in the parish hall once a month. Sometimes they make a simple meal of spaghetti and meat sauce with a garden salad, rolls and apple crisp; at others the meal is more elaborate like roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, rolls and pumpkin cookies. “We’re not four-star chefs by any means,” she said with a laugh. “But we are doing exactly what the bible tells us: Feed the hungry.”

Connie Goodrich, social action chairperson at St. Peter’s, said when there is a need, a core group of about 10 parishioners are generous about preparing and delivering meals in addition to the ones the youth prepare. (Others help, too, when the need is greater and they are alerted by a bulletin announcement.)

The pastor, Father Yvon Royer, tells those involved in the meal preparations when there is a need, so the meals are delivered as needed. Some people want just a few meals, others benefit from extended help. “Whatever is needed” that’s what Goodrich and the others provide.

“It’s a matter of helping your fellow man and helping during hard times,” she said, adding that she takes seriously the call to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The recipients are thankful not only for the food but for the visit from those delivering it. “It gives them hope,” said Goodrich, who likes to make chicken or shepherd’s pie when she’s cooking.

Grover said the thank you notes and smiles the youth receive from those to whom they deliver meals “speak volumes to them” and help them see beyond themselves.

For the parishioners who receive the meals, “it’s nice for them to see kids are taking their faith seriously … and are living their faith,” she said.

Although the meals are prepared mostly for parishioners, they are available to non-parishioners as well.

The confirmation students’ meal program is working so well at St. Peter’s, Grover said it is being introduced at St. Ambrose.

—Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.