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Zoar Lutheran has festive meal at its Kitchen of Hope

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Mitch Teneyck, of Perrysburg, right, hands out candy canes while playing Santa during this month's Kitchen of Hope at Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg. The church offers a free meal monthly to Wood County residents.

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This month's Kitchen of Hope luncheon at Zoar Lutheran Church had a festive feel to it Friday. Diners were invited to sing Christmas carols, and old Saint Nick dropped in for a visit too.

Coordinator Connie Teare and volunteers prepared and served stuffed pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, peas with pearl onions, cranberry sauce, and dessert as part of the free meal outreach.

"I have a group of ladies who work with me," she said.

Kitchen of Hope, which was established in 2006, is typically held on the last Friday of the month at Zoar. All Wood County residents are invited, and there are no requirements or restrictions of age, economic status, race, or religious affiliation. There is no charge.

Ms. Teare said attendance ranges from 70 to more than 100.

"I never know how many to cook for," she said.

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Leftover dishes are packed to go for diners.

"There's a lot of older people and families who need help," Ms. Teare said.

There is no charge for the homemade meals, and the outreach program is funded by donations. Kitchen of Hope also operates an informal lending library, and personal care items are sometimes available.

Zoar offers two other hunger ministries, as well.

The congregation supports Kids Against Hunger, a national non-profit organization that aims to reduce childhood hunger in the United States and to feed starving children throughout the world. According to its Web site, Zoar has purchased and packed more than 100,000 meals in the past three years and sent them to Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Detroit, Toledo, and Perrysburg.

Feed Our Families is a summer food program for children and their families who live in the Perrysburg Exempted Village School District. Every Friday a free lunch is served, and each family receives a week's worth of breakfast and lunch groceries. In the summer of 2011, Zoar provided food for nearly 15,000 meals for 71 different families at a cost of 34 cents per meal, as well as served more than 1,600 hot meals to those families during the 11-week program. The 2013 program begins June 14.

To learn more about Kitchen of Hope, Kids Against Hunger, or Feed Our Families, or to donate or volunteer, contact the church office at at 419-874-4346.

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