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Community hero serves 10,000th free meal

By Christy Fleming

Pastor James Parker has served free meals every day to Delawareans for the last 7 years

Needy New Castle County families have been provided with free food for 74 consecutive days, seven days a week, rain or shine thanks to the indefatigable efforts of a pastor and his flock.

That effort, “Eating at the King’s Table,” has been spearheaded by Pastor James Parker, who along with his group of dedicated volunteers, distributed his 10,000th meal since the start of the Covid pandemic on Friday at a library parking lot in New Castle.

And every car in the line receives a fresh arrangement of flowers along with their food.

For the last seven years, Parker has run his food drive event out of the Rose Hill Community Center, which has been closed due to the pandemic. With Covid restrictions in place, Parker had to “come up with a new way to get the public some food” — somewhere with a large outdoor area.

“Each time it’s a surprise. First, they were getting used to us giving them the fresh vegetables and fruits and things like that. And then at the end, they get fresh flowers, so they are very happy with that,” said Parker on Friday.

He first set up his enterprise outside Dave’s Liquor Store, but they outgrew that. Parker thought about serving at Bowlerama, but he couldn’t get in touch with the owners.

That’s when he turned to New Castle County, which has provided outdoor space at the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center since March.

Dozens of families showed up like they always do to claim bags of produce, vegetables, soup, bread, and dairy products.

“So it’s kind of like the things you used to go out and buy, but you haven’t in a long time, we serve that. But we also offer specialty items for people — it really brings joy to them. They [food drive recipients] wanted us to make boxes and just give them boxes and let them take it all.  But everybody doesn’t eat everything that you put in a box. So we just let them know what we have and then they’ll pick what they would like to eat, rather than we just giving them something they don’t want,” said Parker.

Cars line up daily at the Route 9 Library for free groceries offered by Eating at the King’s Table

And on the day Parker served his 10,000th meal, New Castle County recognized Parker and his volunteers for the work they have done to feed the community. 

“We are so proud to be a part of recognizing these amazing volunteers and their herculean efforts to provide free food to the community, every day during the pandemic,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer.

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