Ending hunger is a top priority

LONGEST TABLE — About 300 people attended Sunday’s Longest Table event on North Street in Steubenville. The event was sponsored by the Urban Mission Ministries to bring awareness to hunger in the community. Volunteers served a family-style dinner. -- Mark Law

STEUBENVILLE — About 300 people came together Sunday afternoon for Sunday’s Longest Table dinner with the ultimate message of working together to end hunger in the community.

The Rev. Ashley Steele, Urban Mission Ministries executive director, said the dinner was an awareness tool to talk about hunger and how the community can end hunger by coming together.

“Coming around the table makes people think about hunger. Everyone is welcome at the table. It is a diverse group of churches and neighborhoods –just a neat group of folks. One in four kids in the community goes hungry everyday. It is evident by the number of people we serve. We are pushing a positive message that ending hunger is possible. We are thankful for the support of the community,” Steele said.

Steele said many volunteers showed up as early as 8 a.m. on Sunday.

“We had tons of volunteers that came out to help. It was tremendous. That is how we get everything done around here. People give the gift of themselves,” she said.

Dinner consisted of barbecued chicken, prepared by workers at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center near Wintersville, green beans cooked by Mount Carmel Community Baptist Church, macaroni and cheese made by Paris Presbyterian Church, sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, salads and coleslaw made by Capraro’s Restaurant and Lounge of Hopedale and desserts prepared by Brenda Wallace of Jewett,

“It is extremely important for the community to show compassion to others, especially ones in need,” said city Mayor Domenick Mucci. “You couldn’t ask for better weather and the crowd is awesome.”

Tammy and David Albaugh of Steubenville came to second-annual Longest Table after hearing about the event last year.

“We came here to support the drive for food for people. We like to go to fundraisers. It is important for the community,” Tammy Albaugh said.

“It is evident that people go hungry,” David Albaugh said.

Gary Hallberg of Wintersville, retired pastor of Steubenville’s Word of Life Fellowship Assembly of God, said the Urban Mission does “wonderful work.”

Hallberg said he wanted to hear more about the Longest Table and its mission of ending hunger.

“Rev. Steele does a marvelous job, and she has a heart for everyone. She desires to serve less fortunate people,” he said.

Hallberg the Longest Table provides a new way of thinking of the poor and people in need, and a way to work with them in making them more self-sufficient.

Steele said God gives us the skills, gifts and resources to end hunger.

“If we work together, ending hunger is possible. We want you to leave hopeful and optimistic it can be changed,” she said.

Joe McGurn, Urban Mission board president, said the “excellent turnout” shows community support of coming together to end hunger.

“Ending hunger is not a one-man operation. It is about reaching out to people. Everyone has to get involved,” he said.

Steele said the table layout was changed this year to bring everyone closer. Tables were arranged in a zigzag pattern.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.)