For over 40 years, furniture buyers and browsers at the High Point Furniture Market and in-the-know-locals have made a semi-annual pilgrimage to the rather nondescript basement of First United Methodist Church. There, a friendly crew offers up a buffet filled with homemade sandwiches, soup, chili, breads, salads, and desserts to the hungry visitors filling the city for the High Point Market.
The tradition started back in 1978 when a few of the High Point showroom owners realized that there weren't many food options for their customers, according to the church’s website. They came up with what they hoped was a clever solution to the problem. They approached the ladies of First United Methodist Church, who realized that their church coffers needed a little lining to continue their good work in the community. The showroom owners told them they would guarantee to buy at least 50 meals if the ladies would provide them. One bright idea later and the first Parson’s Table popped up to provide lunch for those hungry High Point Market visitors.
The women of the church put together a spread of sandwiches—pimento cheese, egg, chicken, and tuna salad—bowls of white chicken chili and vegetable beef soup, and enough desserts to make any Southern lady proud. (According to Our State who profiled the volunteer crew of “ladies who lunch”, at the last market, they put out pistachio, banana, red velvet, coconut, strawberry, carrot, chocolate and pig pickin’ cake, just to name a few.) The 50 meals were sold and the women made $500 at the first market to help fund their charity work, so they decided to do it all again at the next market and a tradition was born.
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The Market has changed a great deal over the last 40+ years, growing into an international destination that hosts 75,000 attendees a year, who spread out across the 12 million square feet of exhibit space looking for inspiration. Lunch, however, has remained steadfastly the same. There are still sandwiches of all stripes and with all the fixings, bowls of chili and a table full of pies, cakes, and cookies of all kinds to sate any sweet tooth.
While that first year they were guaranteed to sell at least 50 lunches, these days over 100 volunteers help the Parson's Table serve anywhere from 350 to 475 meals every single day during the six days they hold their luncheon. These days they make more than $500, too. According to the church’s website, they make nearly $40,000 per year, all of which goes to support to causes like the Open Door Shelter, Appalachia Service Project, Child Enrichment, ARC of High Point and Community Care.
If you find yourself in the area during the High Point Market, stop by the church basement between 11:30am and 2pm, for the best lunch for a great cause. And if you live in the area, they’re always looking for volunteers.