2005-05-20 / News

Free Friday Dinners Return for Employees

By Jessica Delaney

Again this summer, Mackinac Island employees will be able to put down their oven mitts at least one night a week and attend free Friday dinners at Ste. Anne’s Church. A tradition started by Father Jim Williams 15 years ago, Friday dinner nights have provided home-cooked meals to hundreds of appreciative employees.

The dinners are open to everyone and are held in the basement of the church. They should get underway around mid-June.

In the beginning, neighboring businesses were solicited to provide dinner for 200 people for one Friday each summer and, according to Tim Leeper, who organizes the event, there used to be a shortage of food.

“The food quantities have really gone up,” he now notes. “We used to run out, but now we hardly ever run out. Kids used to come right away, because they knew we’d run out of food, but now they know they can wait.”

Last year, food came almost entirely from Iroquois Hotel, and, according to Becki Barnwell, the food and beverage director for the hotel’s Carriage House Restaurant, Iroquois was happy to help.

“We do it as a donation to the church,” said Ms. Barnwell.

This year, other restaurants have also offered to contribute to the dinners.

The volunteers who make dinner nights possible include summer cottagers, vacationers, summer workers, and state park employees.

Mr. Leeper said he hopes to add a second dinner night this summer, to accommodate the large number of foreign workers, many of them on student visa programs.

“I would love to have a hamburger and hot dog night,” he said. “That would be great.”

An additional night would also allow leftovers from the Friday dinner to be offered again, so they don’t go to waste.

Return to top