After Seven Years of Serving Meals to Copper Country Communities, Let’s Eat Take a New Direction | News, Sports, Jobs

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HOUGHTON – Let’s Eat Community Meals Inc. has served the Copper Country with hot, healthy meals for the past seven years.

Chassell residents Bill Binroth and Nancy Sauvola-Binroth started the group in 2015, providing free meals to those in need at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chassell.

Over the years, the nonprofit has grown and now proudly serves four meals a month from locations in Chassell, Hancock, Baraga and South Range. Each of these meals is served at a different church or community venue, such as St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Baraga, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock, and the South Range Eagles Club.

On Monday afternoon, Let’s Eat co-director Bill Binroth spoke to The Gazette to discuss the organization’s work and the new direction it is taking in 2022. He first described the factors that motivated him and his wife to launch Let’s Eat in 2015.

“At the time, I was working with Habitat for Humanity, so I could see that there was some poverty in the area”, he recalled. “And you could see a lot of the adults were single and seemed to be looking for other ways to get involved. I really felt that bringing people together was a need.

With these factors in mind, Binroth and other volunteers began serving meals with the intention of providing healthy food and bringing people together.

“What we have done is provide one meal per month on the third Sunday of the month. We have put together a team and a manager to run the event. We distribute the various tasks among the volunteers such as grocery shopping, cooking and preparing meals ”, Binroth explained.

After seven years, Let’s Eat considers this process a science. To date, they have served a total of 19,773 meals to community members in Chassell, Hancock, Baraga and South Range.

Let’s Eat also makes a point of serving healthy food.

“We wanted to introduce healthier meals. You know, an abundance of low fat vegetables and meats. We never serve red meats or processed meats. We go for things like ground turkey, which is 93% fat free. And then at least two vegetables and one or two fruits ”, Binroth said.

Let’s Eat is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit made up entirely of volunteers and funded by donations. During its early years, a grant from the Portage Health Foundation helped the organization.

Today, Let’s Eat relies on donations and volunteer work from community members and groups, as well as sponsorships from local businesses. According to Binroth, a $ 200 sponsorship can provide 100 meals. He expressed his gratitude to the many businesses, organizations and volunteers in the community who help make the group’s work possible.

When COVID-19 hit the region, Let’s Eat had to make some adjustments to how it worked. But despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the organization has thrived.

They reduced the number of volunteers working at each event, typically operating with just four to five people. They also invested in take-out containers and started serving take-out meals rather than having a sit-down event.

For Binroth and the other organizers of the group, the work is motivated by a deep connection to the Copper Country and love for the region’s unique community.

“I went to school here and my wife is from Chassell. So she grew up here and we have ties to the region ”, he said. “I like to give back to the community. I find people grateful. People are nice to each other here.

While Let’s Eat has been very successful in its current form, its organizers have decided to take a new direction in 2022. The monthly meal program will continue, but in the future it will be carried out by a variety of churches and community organizations around the Copper Country.

“I developed a strategic plan to transfer this function to a group of local organizations”, Binroth explained. “So I have basically lined up 10 to 12 organizations in Houghton County and 10 to 12 in Baraga County that are ready to have one meal per month starting in 2022.”

Let’s Eat will continue to host one event in Houghton County and one in Baraga County each year, but the rest of the upcoming events will be hosted by different organizations.

These organizations include Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, and Phi Kappa Tau Fellowship in Houghton County. In Baraga County, organizations include Pettibone Traverse Lift, the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, and the Baraga County Catholic Community.

Let’s Eat will continue to play a role in events in 2022 to ensure every community group has the tools they need to make the program a success.

“I think it’s like a change of gears. We’re still interested in what’s going on, but we’re going to be less directly involved. The purpose of the event will not disappear ”, Binroth said.

Binroth has worked with each of these organizations for the past seven years, and he is confident the meal program is in good hands for the future. He hopes that every community organization will organize the event and make it their own.

For more information, contact Bill Binroth at [email protected] or 906-370-9965.

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