"Tuesday Nite Dinners" return to the Christian Center of Park City
The Christian Center of Park City is bringing back free weekly dinners this winter after a pandemic hiatus.
In 2013, the Christian Center of Park City became inundated with international student workers, also called J1s, in need of housing, food, winter clothing and more. Those needs turned into outreach and that turned into a weekly tradition called "Tuesday Nite Dinners."
Rob Harter is the executive director of the Christian Center. He said after a two-year COVID hiatus, he’s excited to bring back the dinners every Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Harter said the goal of the dinners is to create a safe place to have a great time and eat good food, so that the seasonal workers feel at home in Park City.
A rotating roster of volunteer chefs prepare the dinners and bring them to the Christian Center to serve.
“But each week now has been covered by somebody or a group in the community wanting to provide a home-cooked meal for these students, which is really fun," Harter said. "We've heard many years now that it's the best meal they get during the week because it's homemade. It's free, of course, and it's as much as they can eat. And typically we'll give them extra so they can take it home for the rest of that week.”
Harter said the dinners are free for any seasonal employees but most of the time it’s predominantly J1 student workers who turn out for the meal.
“You know, it really varies by the use, the first week is a little bit lower, sometimes 75 to 100, we've had up to 200. So it really varies, every week is a bit different. It depends what's going on in the city at the time and their work schedules," he said. "The average typical is about 125 to 150 on any given Tuesday night.”
Another service the Christian Center provides is the food pantry, which Harter said is feeding an unprecedented number of people.
“The line went out the door and was going out around the building so there's just a big need right now," Harter said. "And I think it's a combination, as I mentioned before, the prices of everything are so high for everybody. Plus, we have the J1 students now that are coming. So that combination has made it where we just have seen a big increase.”
Harter said the pantry serves fresh food donated by local grocery stores as well as nonperishable items.
“Well, what we find is we don't have as much fresh food for people if they come later. So we give them more, you know, shelf stable food, nonperishable foods," he said. "So they’ll get food, they just don't get as much of the fresh food because we go through it so quickly. But we do run out at times of the fresh food, of certain items, and so therefore, we supplement that with some of the nonperishables. We want to make sure people will get food, it just may be not as many items as they’re used to if they’ve come before.”
The dinners run through Feb. 28 at the Christian Center at 1283 Deer Valley Drive.
The Park City food pantry hours Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Heber pantry hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.