The St. Peter Parish Hall in Vergennes was filled with the aroma of a turkey dinner as students in the youth ministry program and adult volunteers prepared the November “Monthly Shut-In Meal.”

They prepare the Sunday meal once a month during the school year and deliver an average of 25 meals each time.

Some of the recipients are on the parish communion-call list while others have recently had surgery or are recovering from an illness.

“If somebody needs a meal, we’re there to fill that need,” said Lisa Grover, director of youth ministry and family faith formation.

The meals began as a confirmation program service project about 10 years ago but evolved into a youth ministry effort. Students and their families and the Ladies of St. Anne used to donate the food, but thanks to a $1,500 grant from the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation, food and some miscellaneous supplies are now covered.

This was the first year the meal program received the grant, and Grover said “we were very, very excited” to get it.

This year the youth group includes more than a dozen middle and high school students from St. Peter Church as well as from St. Ambrose Church in Bristol.

“Engaging students in service is the core of our youth ministry program,” Grover said. “It’s what most defines our faith — to treat everybody as our brothers and sisters by serving them, doing what our faith calls us to do.”

For MaryBeth Cosgrove, a high school junior from St. Peter’s, “it’s rewarding to give.”

She sees some of the meal recipients at Mass and said their faith is inspiring. “They make me want to be better myself and be like them” in their devotion to their faith, she said.

When the students deliver the meals, they include handmade cards “to give them a little cheer and let them know we are thinking about them,” Grover said.

—Originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.