The idea started with a Laingsburg resident who’d read about a pass-it-forward meal program in another state. Patrons of a restaurant would leave extra money to be used toward meals for those in need. Those seeking a free meal or takeout, enjoyed a restaurant meal, something they didn’t get to do very often. Fast forward a few months and many planning conversations with other good Samaritans and business owners later, and a similar program – Money 4 Meals – is now underway in Laingsburg.
One of those Samaritans is an anonymous donor from the community who quickly jumped on board to seed Money 4 Meals with $1,000, to be shared equally amongst the six businesses who have signed up.
Individuals and families who are food insecure in the Laingsburg area can stop into one of several participating restaurants and receive a free meal, beverage or snack. It will run on the honor system. Money 4 Meals only requires a first name and last initial. Participating businesses so far are Subway (Laingsburg location only), Laingsburg Dairy Den, Ayven Grace, Tammy’s Bakery and Café, PDP’s Pizzeria and Firefly Ridge Farms, which will provide fresh eggs, baked goods and produce as available. Others may join in the future.
The program will ultimately be funded by donations from community members who stop in to buy their own food and leave a little extra in the donation boxes for the Money 4 Meals program. The initial anonymous donation gets things going, according to Pastor Tiffany Newsom of Laingsburg United Methodist Church, which is serving as the fiduciary for the program. She says it’s a win-win for the restaurants and Firefly Ridge because not only are they getting business from paying patrons, they’re also getting reimbursed for the free food they provide to their neighbors in need.
“We’re so excited and proud to have this up and running, and for the businesses who have stepped forward to help those in our community who would like to enjoy a restaurant meal, an ice cream cone or fresh vegetables once in awhile,” shared Newsom, who came to Laingsburg last summer and is pleased to see the town’s generosity. “We were working to make it happen when we were blessed with a generous soul who gave us the money to seed it. Now, we need the community to join us by leaving the change from their tab at Tammy’s or Dairy Den, for example, or simply stopping into one of the participating businesses or Laingsburg United Methodist Church to donate. That’s what will make this work long term.”
Newsom said organizers will work with the Laingsburg-Area Food Bank, local churches, the school district and other places who work with food-insecure people to get the word out. For more information, people can reach the church Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at (517) 651-5531.