By Mamta Lulla

Every Tuesday, more than 100 people get together at the St. Augustine’s Parkland Anglican Church in Spruce Grove to enjoy a hot meal and some good conversations.

The free lunch program at Auggie’s Café opened to the public about six years ago and it’s only grown since then.

“It’s about the culture around our food. We serve our food with trust and respect which drives people in,” said Dianne Brown, volunteer manager.

The program offers connections, friendships and fellowship along with free food to those who attend.

The number of people served has gone up since the program began, and today about 110 people walk through the church’s doors every Tuesday.

The hall has reached capacity said Brown, but that isn’t going to affect the program.

Brown said people who would stay the full two hours leave sooner so there’s room for more people to come in and enjoy the seasonal meal. There’s also a long-term plan – currently in the initial stages to make sure no one is turned away.

Brown confirmed the program’s location won’t change because people are familiar with the current location. She said word of mouth has gone a long way.

“People know about us here, they tell their neighbours and friends. We don’t want to risk losing them,” she said.

Another reason staying put is a good idea, is because the organizers want to honour the installation of a dishwashing system at the church which was a donation made to the program.

The cost to prepare the meals is about $1,500 a month which serves 500 meals. Brown said many ingredients come through donations, for example, the farmers market for fresh produce.

Each week, Brown needs a kitchen staff of about 22 people to prepare the meals and she always manages to find volunteers.

“It’s because the culture around our food works well,” she said adding that the culture attracts people over and over again.

The program runs every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

To volunteer or to help out in any way or to just grab a cup of coffee with Dianne Brown, connect with her at 780-963-4605.