Community members dig in at the 2016 Community Supper in Falmouth. Contributed / Peggy McGehee

For over a decade, hundreds of community members have gathered at the Falmouth Congregational Church each October for the annual Community Supper of roast turkey and all the fixings. This year, however, with the first cancellation of the supper since 2008, the tables will stay empty.

A virtual supper was held last fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers decided to forgo that version this year with the hope that an in-person, outdoor supper can be held next spring or summer, according to Nancy Lightbody, manager and volunteer coordinator for the Falmouth Food Pantry.

“We have several plans, but they take a lot of planning because we have to work around COVID,” Lightbody said. “We’ve discussed doing it in July and then everybody can eat together outside. Another idea was to have smaller groups in different locations around Falmouth, to spread everyone out. Nothing has been set in stone, it’s still under construction.”

The Community Supper truly is a community event. In 2019, about 750 people turned out, Lightbody said, and about 250 volunteers worked on it. Hosted by the Falmouth Congregational Church in conjunction with other religious communities and faith leaders in Falmouth – including Foreside Community Church, West Falmouth Baptist and Emmaus Lutheran Church – the dinner is free and donations to the Falmouth Food Pantry are accepted.

Its main purpose is to bring people together “to break bread and join in fellowship,” Lightbody said, and the pantry donations are simply a bonus.

Food pantry volunteer Peggy McGehee, who has volunteered for the supper since its inception, said attendees usually range from local and state officials to seniors, teens and plenty of local families.

“One of the things I always notice at the supper is just a feeling of joy,” McGehee said. “We’ve all learned during this pandemic how much we appreciate being together. I’ve always felt the Community Supper was a unique opportunity for people of all kinds, from all places to just get together. We don’t have that this year and I think it’s a great loss.”

In 2019, the supper raised more than $20,000 for the pantry. The food pantry has no plans to hold another fundraiser to make up for the loss of the supper donations, but Lightbody said a number of community members have still made donations or have volunteered their time for the pantry.

The pantry, while not open to the public eight times a month as it was pre-pandemic, continues to make monthly deliveries to about 300 families, Lightbody said. About 50 to 60 regular volunteers fill boxes with non-perishables, fresh vegetables, meat, eggs and diapers and get them to those in need. The number of volunteers has gone down during the pandemic because the hours aren’t as flexible, but the number of people who use the pantry has stayed consistent, she said.

More information on the food pantry, including how you can help, can be found on the town’s website.

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