Dayton area church shifts to drive-thru for longtime Election Day dinner

The COVID-19 pandemic won’t stop a Dayton area church from continuing a more than century-old tradition, albeit in a new way.

Parkview United Methodist Church in Miamisburg will offer Election Day meals in a drive-thru manner and only for orders made in advance.

The church, which previously was known as The United Brethren, started its meal-serving custom in 1901 when congregants hauled home-cooked meals to poll workers and voters at Miamisburg’s old city hall, an area now known as Market Square. It continued the annual tradition at the church’s various previous locations and then its current location at 3713 Benner Road, even as no polling is conducted there.

Meal sales help raise funds for a local non-profit. Funds this year will be raised to benefit Blessings in Bag, a local faith-driven program between Parkview and two other Miamisburg churches providing food to Dayton area students on weekends when the schools do not serve food to them.

“We figure it’s a tradition,” said Berman Layer, 97, a member of the congregation since 1951. “If you look at when it started in 1901, we had the flood (in 1913), the Spanish Flu epidemic during World War I, the Depression years, World War II and everything else so we figured the least we could as a church was continue that tradition as a memorial to the older people in our church who fought through all those things.”

The church says the dinner is one of the longest running events of its kind in the United States.

This year’s sold-out event is scheduled for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and will include turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cole slaw, a dinner roll and a slice of either apple, cherry, pumpkin or pecan pie, Layer said.

The amount of meals on hand this year is being reduced to 200 servings compared to approximately 500 to 600 in previous years, he said.

“The reason we cut back this year is because it’s going to be drive-through and we didn’t have an idea if how many people might be able to come or what the weather conditions would be like," Layer said.

COVID-19 safety and social distancing guidelines will be followed, Layer said. Boy Scouts from Troop 402 will act as runners carrying out food between the church and people waiting in their vehicles.

“So they don’t even have to come into church. It’ll be delivered right out to the car," he said.

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