Wednesday’s Supper: Norfolk Taking Care of Norfolk

Grace Allen
Wednesday’s Supper organizer Jeff Chalmers
Issue Date: 
December, 2017
Article Body: 

A new outreach initiative in Norfolk is providing a free meal for those in need. Wednesday’s Supper, which started last month, welcomes residents to stop by, enjoy a hot meal, and connect with others in town.
The meals take place the first and third Wednesday of every month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. They are held at the Federated Church on Union Street, but there is no affiliation with the church.
Norfolk resident Jeff Chalmers is the force behind Wednesday’s Supper. He believes the town has the responsibility and the means to support its residents, and thinks the initiative is an opportunity for Norfolk to work together in a spirit of compassion and generosity.
Chalmers has assembled an enthusiastic group of volunteers to help cook and serve guests. He has contacted local restaurants and supermarkets for donations, and hopes to encourage more area businesses to support the initiative.
Coincidentally, the first meal took place the week the town suffered power outages after the remnants of Tropical Storm Philippe impacted the area.
“It was a way for the community to come together,” said Chalmers. “The goal of Wednesday’s Supper is to serve people who can’t cook for one reason or another. Or maybe they’re new in town. It’s a great opportunity for us to take care of our own.”
Chalmers originally planned to call the event Wednesday’s Dinner, but quickly realized “dinner” was too formal.
“Growing up in Arlington, it was all about supper,” he said. “Having supper means not just your family, but your friends too. Everyone came over for supper, and that’s the concept I wanted for this.”
Chalmers, who serves on the Norfolk and KP school committees, said although Norfolk is an affluent town, there is an underserved population that could benefit from a place to go for a meal and friendly conversation. That human connection can be even more important than the food, he believes.
“Communities are so different from when we grew up,” said Chalmers. “Used to be, neighbors dropped in, you sat them down, made them something to eat. We’ve lost touch. People hide behind technology. We don’t answer the phone. We freak out when the doorbell rings. Technology is wonderful but it doesn’t replace communication.”
Chalmers, who has volunteered at the Pine Street Inn for 30 years, credits his parents for instilling in him the drive to help others.
“I have two wonderful parents who were very selfless and have always been about everyone else, and that’s just the way I was raised,” he said. “Knock on wood, I’ve been very blessed. To me, when you are blessed and successful, you have to give a lot of that back.”
Chalmers hopes Wednesday’s Supper will help build a sense of community in town and help people reconnect with what’s really important.
“It’s a way of erasing all this chatter and noise we have, and just get back to people taking care of people. It’s Norfolk taking care of Norfolk, but if people come from other towns, that’s OK too. Family is family.”
For more information about Wednesday’s Supper, visit