‘Dinner For a Dollar': Providing Food For Families in Need

NBC Universal, Inc.

Bringing people together with a meal: that’s what the program “Dinner for a Dollar” has been all about.

On Friday night in Hamden, Grace and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church celebrated 10 years of giving back and breaking bread through Dinner for a Dollar.

“I noticed people were experiencing hardships, food hardships,” said Allison Batson, founder and coordinator of Dinner for a Dollar.

That observation and the need to act created a community. Every Friday, Grace and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden brings people together to eat and catch up with one another.

“The dollar is optional. It’s a donation, and it tends to preserve people’s dignity. So if you want, you’re not getting something for nothing. You’re paying your way and enjoying a meal in the process and a community in the process."

- Allison Batson

“We had the opportunity to meet all kinds of people from every walk of life in a non-judgmental atmosphere. That’s what we liked about it,” said Maureen Najarian, who lives in nearby North Haven.

For the last six years, Najarian has brought her smile and laughter to the table. She said during the pandemic, this weekly meal helped many, including herself. When her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she said this place offered her the support she needed.

“There were some days I was so exhausted caring for my husband that a warm, home-cooked meal and a friendly hello was welcome,” said Najarian.

United Way of Greater New Haven brought in volunteers for their week of action and to help celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Dinner for a Dollar.

The mayor declared Friday Grace and St. Peter’s Church Dinner for a Dollar Day in Hamden.

“This is such a testament to the power of volunteers,” said Jennifer Heath, CEO and president of United Way of Greater New Haven. “I think everyone should know they can really make a difference in their own community.”

What started out as helping to feed those in need has become a social gathering that’s filling more than just a plate.

Dinner for a Dollar is held every Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. In 10 years, they’ve only missed one Friday and that was because of the blizzard in 2013.

The event is also held every Saturday from 6 to 7 p.m. at Hamden Plains United Methodist Church.

If you’d like to donate to Dinner for a Dollar, you can click here. If you’d like to donate to United Way of Greater New Haven, you can click here.

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