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Food for the soul in Magnolia, Mississippi

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By Associate Chris Ingrassia - Mississippi
Photo of Chris and Glenn Ingrassia

Being born and raised in New Orleans, my husband, Glenn, is a great cook! Shrimp po-boys, filet gumbo, meatballs and spaghetti, red beans and rice! The menu is like the endless buffet at the Silver Slipper Casino! A family meal in south Louisiana is a sacred event. Eleanor, my mother-in-law, was from ‘down the bayou’ and taught Glenn Cajun cooking. It was Grandma Jenny who shared her Italian recipes.

After 52 years of working long hours, weekends and shift work, Glenn has retired, but not from cooking! With the support of our parish, Glenn started cooking a meal once a month for anyone that passed by the parish hall. At first, my job was to stand outside on the sidewalk and drum up business. Magnolia is a small town and word quickly got around about a free lunch. Now, I can hardly keep up with getting the boxed meals out.

Image of Glenn Ingrassia in the kitchen cooking.

Glenn always had a desire to feed the needy and I think we do serve several families in need. Many people ask for an extra meal to bring home to a neighbor or the home bound. But it seems that this simple meal has become a wonderful way to gather community. The county maintenance crew always remembers the third Thursday meal and they bring the prison trustees who work with them. Juvenile Court is next door to our parish hall. Staff and sometimes parents walk over for a quick lunch. Anyone who happens to walk by on the third Thursday of the month is encouraged to stop and enjoy a satisfying meal.

Our average meal count is anywhere from 50-80. Sometimes we have leftovers to freeze and sometimes we run out of food before 1 p.m. I feel so ill-equipped when we must turn someone away or when we get a request for lodging or other services that we cannot provide. But mostly, the third Thursday lunch is becoming an opportunity to break bread with new friends. “Through our ministry, we and those to whom we are sent are mutually enriched.” YAS #25

Glenn is not an associate, but he may as well make it official. We work together in various ministries that embody the charism and mission of the SSND. Most of all, Glenn is the ‘Chief Cook,’ and I am the ‘Bottle Washer.’

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