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Everyone welcome to free church meal

One of the best kept secrets in Cloquet is at the Presbyterian Church. Volunteers at the little church, 47 Fourth St., across the street from Queen of Peace Catholic Church (Sacred Heart), has been providing free meals for decades. "We think the ...

The Presbyterian Church on Fourth Street is across from Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Cloquet. Volunteers at the church offer free meals to the public several times a year. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal
The Presbyterian Church on Fourth Street is across from Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Cloquet. Volunteers at the church offer free meals to the public several times a year. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

One of the best kept secrets in Cloquet is at the Presbyterian Church.

Volunteers at the little church, 47 Fourth St., across the street from Queen of Peace Catholic Church (Sacred Heart), has been providing free meals for decades.

"We think the need for fellowship is as important as the food," said Marjori Bottila, a volunteer cook.

While the meals vary, most of the food is homemade. Past menus have included giant holiday dinners, soup, pork loin and most recently, chili. In the summer, an old-fashioned barbecue is a big hit.

Although they are not allowed to deliver due to state laws, they do provide carryout meals. If the person calls ahead, the meal will be ready to go when they stop to pick it up.

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The meals used to bring in huge crowds, but they have dwindled over time.

"It's not as easy as you think to help people," volunteer cook Margaret Ritson said. "We need more people to come."

The frequency of the free meals is being reduced due to lack of participation. Instead of being held monthly, the meals will be several times a year.

Another longtime volunteer, Byron Backus does whatever is needed.

"He goes where ever we put him," Bottila said.

Like the majority of the volunteers, Backus helps in a variety of ways, depending on where it is needed that day. More volunteers are always needed and appreciated.

"The food is always so, so good," Bottila said. "There is always a main course, beverage and a really yummy dessert." She added the volunteers always have fun and there are many laughs shared while preparing the meals.

The public is welcome to the next free meal April 29 from 5-6 p.m. The menu includes ham, scalloped potatoes, a vegetable, coleslaw and a dessert.

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For more information, visit cloquetpresb.com. To schedule carryout, call 218-879-8813.

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