Customers can elect to eat in or drive through for Election Day meals being served by area churches.

Either way, Valley residents win. They support various charitable causes and get a good homemade meal. For those on the go — voting, campaigning or monitoring the results — the meals solve the dinner question.

Lynn Burkey, a member of Cortland United Methodist Church, said the drive- through concept is working well. Last October, the church sponsored its first drive-through spaghetti dinner and sold about 180 meals. With the Election Day fundraiser, the goal is more than 200 meals.

“We’ve found out through our chicken dinners that more people had carryout than eat in,” the head cook said. He said eat-in chicken dinners during the summer numbered about 150 while takeout ranged from 200 to 250.

He theorized that people have taken to the drive-through concept that many churches are using because they don’t have to get out of the car, and their dinners are ready to go. “We thought this would be good for Election Day when people have worked and voted,” Burkey said. After that, they can pick up dinner and watch the results in the comfort of their homes.

For the church, the drive-through venture translates into fewer volunteers because there’s no serving at tables or cleaning the dining halls. The effort is focused on cooking and packaging. It takes about a dozen volunteers to work the drive-through sales.

Burkey said the church has its own recipes for the sauce and meatballs.

“People like homemade,” he said.

The United Methodist Men met for its Bible study late Monday then turned attention toward mixing the sauce, cooking the meatballs and bagging bread. Lundy O’Dell is chairman of the dinner.

Burkey said sale proceeds benefit Bella Women’s Center and the Warren Family Mission.

At Good Hope Lutheran Church in Boardman, BobbyChalky said comments from poll workers about the availability of food prompted the church to begin its Election Day bake sale and food sale. That was about 15 years ago and it’s been going strong ever since.

Chalky said the church is a polling site, and free coffee and tea are available to voters.

“I’ve heard some people make plans to just come here for lunch. They love the homemade food,” she said.

Chalky said the church has had the good fortune of selling out its sale.

She explained a relative of a church member is making pepperoni rolls. “They’re stuffed with cheese and pepperoni,” she said.

Members of the women’s group pitch in with the cooking of sloppy joes and hot dogs and donate baked goods.

This year, proceeds will go to a new dishwasher.

Joyce Ward said an Election Day sale at East Fairfield United Methodist Church, a polling site, has taken place “for generations.”

The church member and president of United Methodist Women said a bazaar has been sponsored for about 20 years. “There’s household treasures, clothing, homemade baked goods and candy,” she said.

The soup-and-sandwich luncheon typically draws between 75 and 100 people. “Many of the same people come each year,” she said. This year the church will offer potato, vegetable and ham and bean soups.

UMW members spent Monday at the church preparing the food and setting up the sale.

Support of the bazaar and luncheon translates into support for local outreach efforts such as the Way Station and the 4C’s (Crestview Churches Community Concerns), which includes Abundant Life Fellowship, East Fairfield UMC, Middleton Friends Church, New Waterford Methodist Church, New Waterford Presbyterian Church and Zion Lutheran Church.

Doris Puerner, a 40-year member at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Canfield, is coordinating its annual spaghetti dinner at Canfield High School, which once was a polling site. “It seems a lot of people attend to renew acquaintances,” she said.

The church offers dine-in or take out. “The homemade pies and good food are something people remember,” Puerner said. The church donates leftovers to Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley.

Proceeds benefit church outreach programs in the community. “We couldn’t do it without the wonderful volunteers,” she said.

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