Who comes to eat these days?
The guest list for the Dragon Café includes anyone who is hungry. In the past the Dragon Café was mostly a ministry of food and fellowship serving disaster relief workers and volunteers. Presently the Café serves a population that primarily suffers from mental illness and substance abuse as well as the homeless and the working poor. On average we serve about 90 meals between 8:30 and 9:30 am every Sunday morning.
More than a year ago we decided to shift from serving dinner two nights a week to serving breakfast once per week. The decision was primarily economic but the benefits from this change have been legion: We are now serving a much higher “at risk” population (many of whom by late afternoon are seeking shelter for the night or are otherwise occupied); breakfast provides our guests incentive to get up, get to the church and consume a hot meal rather than less healthy alternatives; the weekend hours have made it easier for St. George’s parishioners to participate - our volunteer corps has grown to nearly 1/3 of our regular church membership.
How is the Cafe funded?
The Dragon Café is completely funded by private donations like yours. Grants are rare. Besides oversight from the rector, the Dragon Café is 100% volunteer – there are no paid staff members. Many of our consumables are provided by food and supply drives at area churches and schools.
What impact does the Café have on the neighborhood & identity of St. George’s as the body of Christ?
In the six years that the Café has been in operation, St. George’s, located in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans, has never received a complaint from neighborhood residents. Rather, St. George’s is known as the church that feeds people on Sunday mornings, many of whom begin to line up outside the church by 7:30 am every Sunday.
As the vision of St. George’s ministry continues to grow, the Dragon Café has helped the mission statement of the church evolve from a relatively abstract statement describing St. George’s as an “Eucharistically centered community” to this very simple hope: “At. St. George’s, no one leaves hungry.” As we celebrate the early service of Holy Communion in the church upstairs at 8am, we don’t smell incense but rather the aroma of sausage cooking in the kitchen below. Not many, but some, of our guests also attend church services and the Sunday bible study in the chapel at 9:30am.
In January of 2010 the church received this hand written note:
“Dear Good People: Here is a small contribution towards the Dragon Café. I have just brought my son to Asheville and he’s told me about having meals at your church. Your program has probably saved his life. I am deeply, beyond words, grateful.”
The Dragon Café has become, as one Vestry member recently said, “A major part of who St. George’s is.”
How can I support the work of the Dragon Café?
The goal of the Dragon Café is to expand from serving breakfast one morning per week to offering breakfast and a “carry out” lunch as many days of the week as possible. At St. George’s, with a mission statement that compels us to serve a hungry world, we are inspired by the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples as they wondered aloud to him about how he would feed the multitudes : “You give them something to eat.” You can support the work of The Dragon Café by donating online and supporting the Dragon Café financially, by soliciting from within your own circle of resources across the Diocese to procure high quality objects of art, services and gift certificates for our auction tables in June, or by volunteering to cook, clean or serve at the Dragon Café.
To volunteer to work at the Café contact Chip Duncan.
For financial inquiries about the Dragon Café Feeding Ministry contact Chip Duncan.