Let’s be honest. We are spoiled. Does this sound like you? – “I have spent more time worrying about where I am going to find a particular ingredient for a special meal than I have ever worried about where I am going to find my next meal.” With the year around availability of even the most exotic ingredients we take our abundance of food for granted while others in our community struggle just to keep their stomach full.
In the book of Matthew Jesus famously said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in… Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Members of downtown Appleton’s Mission Church live out their faith and make this verse come alive every week at the Refuge.
The Refuge is exactly that. It is a bi-weekly refuge for people in need to escape the winter’s chill, summer’s heat, or those who just like hanging out. Part coffee shop, part restaurant, this judgment free zone encourages people to come as they please to play cards, make new friends or just enjoy a hot meal. The Refuge is part of the Mission Church’s ongoing effort meet the community where they are at and make the church a safe place for people to come explore their faith.
During colder weather they provide a variety of delicious homemade soup and stews. Scratch made offerings such as beef vegetable medley, gumbo, and potato leek soup are made from scratch and brought in by church volunteers. When the weather heats up the menu evolves to warm weather friendly fare like hotdogs, a variety of delicious salads, and root beer floats. The church also accepts community donations of items, such as bread, to serve. Beginning in June the Refuge is deviating from their typical 2:00 – 5:00pm hours on Thursday to provide an evening meal instead from 4:00 – 6:00pm in hopes of reaching a larger group of people.
It is said that anyone who leaves the Refuge with an empty stomach does so by their own choosing. Volunteers aim to provide a feast fit for their King and multiple trips to the food counter are welcomed. It is exciting to see the love of food combine with the love of people for a greater purpose. Even beyond the restaurant scene there are some great culinary happenings around the valley.
The Refuge currently operates twice a week at 314 North Appleton Street, downtown Appleton: Mondays from 2:00pm – 5:00pm and Thursday 4:00 – 6:00pm. Though it is primarily volunteer driven, they happily accept donations from restaurants and businesses. Donations can be anything from entrees, sides, fresh fruits, breads, chips or drinks. If you operate a food related establishment and would like to donate some of your surplus goods, please contact me and I will help get it arranged. We have been blessed to live in a pretty great community with an abundance of food at our disposal and what greater way is there to give back than to bless someone else with it in return?