St. Joseph Diner is getting ready for the Christmas Day crowd; menu planned, volunteers assigned | Coronavirus

People in Lafayette facing hunger can plan a Christmas meal of steak and toppings with baked goods for desserts, a spokesperson for Catholic Charities of Acadiana said this week.

St. Joseph Diner, operated by Catholic Charities, will serve meals in an area with remote seating – tables and chairs will be set up – in the parking lot behind the restaurant. Dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Day at least, said Ben Broussard, head of external affairs for Catholic Charities. The restaurant is located at 405 St. John St., Lafayette.

“We will be ready to serve 300 people,” said Broussard. “It’s probably more than we’ll need, but you never want to run out of food. “

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The St. Joseph Diner has served food insecure people in Lafayette every Christmas since 1983, when the agency was founded. The only exception was last year when there was no public meal due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We made arrangements for medically needy people confined to the home,” said Broussard, for whom it was not possible to make it to the restaurant.

“It should be a beautiful spring day,” he said, with temperatures expected to start in the mid-1960s and hit the 70s on Saturday.

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Broussard said there was a full contingent of volunteers ready to prepare meals and serve tables on Christmas Day. He said the volume of volunteer aid was at times uncertain since the restaurant reopened to the public on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since it closed to the public during the pandemic, but the volunteer time slots on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas are generally spoken by the public months in advance. He said a kitchen crew will start working at the restaurant around 6 a.m.

The St. Joseph Diner now serves breakfasts seven days a week, with outdoor seating. Volunteer help was generally difficult to obtain for the morning shift, which begins at 7 a.m. The afternoon shift begins around 11 a.m.

It takes about 10 to 15 volunteers to staff the two cooking and preparation teams and four or five volunteers to serve the tables. The restaurant is expanding its facilities – the first plans were revealed on Thanksgiving Day – with plans to eventually serve meals more like a restaurant than a soup kitchen, with some choice of what customers are served. For now, however, meals are being distributed in containers.

Plans call for extended hours when the restaurant is expanded, which should help encourage social distancing.

Broussard said around 100 to 120 people have been eating their meals at the restaurant on a typical day since it reopened.

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