St. Paul Lutheran Salad Luncheons


            In the fall of 1979, the ladies of St. Paul Lutheran were looking for a different and fun project.  We had served auctions, held garage sales, and baked our way to some small change.  Audrey Halvorson, a 3M wife from Wisconsin, suggested we try a Holiday Salad Luncheon.  With a lot of planning and help from some very good cooks, we made our debut.  Tickets were $2.00, and we served 112.  It was a success!

             By 1982, the ticket price was $3.00.  We also sold cookie plates—10 cookies for $1.00.  Take-out lunches were offered for the first time and 28 people took advantage of that new arrangement.

            Wanting to garner more money for our donations, we applied for matching funds from Lutheran Brotherhood, Southwest Missouri Branch 8621, a fraternal benefit society for Lutherans.  Now known as Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, that society has supported us each year since.

            We stayed with the holiday tradition until December, 1987, when a hepatitis epidemic in the community caused us to postpone the event until February, 1988.  We thought February was a great month—easy decorations and certainly less hectic than December.

            On our tenth anniversary, we held the luncheon on February 14, 1989.  We served the same menu as our initial luncheon in 1979. Cookie plates were again sold; this time for $2.50.  To celebrate past luncheons, we made a cookbook of all the recipes we had served at our luncheons.  We printed 200 cookbooks and sold them for $2.50 each.

            The tradition of the luncheon continued, and our 1993 luncheon was scheduled for Tuesday, February 16.  On Monday, we had a big snowstorm.  What to do?  The weather forecast predicted it would clear Monday night.  John Bloesser, the chair that year, had faith and decided to go ahead as planned.  Tuesday was a beautiful, clear and cold day, although some chose not to brave the snow. 

            The snowstorm made us re-think the date so in 1994 we tried March 14.  We used a country theme and sold chances on a quilt as an additional money-maker.

            In 1995, St. Paul Lutheran celebrated its 40th anniversary and, as part of that celebration, we made another cookbook, including all the recipes from our salad luncheons and favorite recipes from our church family and friends.  It was a huge success.

            Our luncheon has been built on tradition; in 1988, we served Sally’s Breadsticks rather than rolls or muffins.  They were a big hit and have been on the menu ever since.

            Sometimes, work on other projects gets in the way and such was the case in 2000.  Our pastor had announced his retirement, and we had outgrown our current building space on South Clay Street.  We were busy calling a new pastor, looking at architectural designs for a new church, and finishing a Stewardship Program which exceeded our pledge goal for a new building.  It was hard to find time for salad luncheon planning so we did not schedule a luncheon.  The community let us know that they missed it.

            On June 5, 2001, we served our last Salad Luncheon at 1030 South Clay Street.  We dedicated our new building at our present location on South BB Highway on June 9, 2002.   Our first luncheon there was on June 25.  We weren’t sure what to do with all the room, but what a treat it was to serve from a new spacious kitchen into a wonderful fellowship hall.  In 2008, the ticket price was raised to $7.00 and we served 231 friends. 

            Holding our luncheon in June was good for all of us; we serve only cold salads and we have more help with our teachers on vacation. 

            Each year we have given a portion of our proceeds back to our community.  Some of the recipients have been CCPA, Vernon County Developmental Center, Head Start, Women in Crisis Council, Community Outreach, and the Vernon County Youth Fair.  In addition, we have donated to Reading is Fundamental, YMCA, Scout Troop at St. Paul, Youth to New Orleans and Atlanta, Debt Retirement Fund, Nevada Public Library, Nevada Ministerial Alliance, and Meals on Wheels.  

Each year two meat salads, two vegetable salads, and two dessert salads are served along with a dessert and beverage.