Lovina Eicher (who last month commemorated 20 years of writing columns) answers this question in a recent Amish Kitchen column.

Lovina has covered this big meal logistics topic before. I like these columns because they quantify just how much goes into these larger meals and events like weddings and benefits.

The occasion here was a grilled chicken and pulled pork benefit dinner for Lovina’s daughter and son-in-law (Loretta and Dustin) who have significant medical expenses (Loretta had serious blood clots in her lungs and leg).

Example flyer for an Amish benefit dinner

In any case, this is what was involved. The menu:

The menu was pulled pork, grilled chicken, chicken noodle soup, baked beans, potato salad, peanut butter, strawberry, pecan, and pumpkin pies, lemonade, and coffee.

Sounds good!

To prepare for this we had one hog roasted, but we ran out so we could’ve had two.

One hog short! But not to worry, there was plenty of other food…

We had 1200 pounds of grilled chicken and it took 700 pounds. (The rest was taken around to places in a nearby community for donation.) It is so hard to know how much to have as you don’t have any idea how many people will show up, and we had carry-outs available, too.

I can imagine the planning could be tough. So in answer to this post’s question, it’s hard to say how much is needed. But the food won’t go to waste either way. More from the menu:

We bought 80 pounds of noodles from an Amish bulk food store, and 75 quarts of chicken broth were donated by the local families. There were 23 kettles (12-quart size) of chicken noodle soup made. It took 21 kettles. Women in the community made 30 gallons of potato salad and 30 gallons of baked beans. We had more than enough of that.

And of course the most critical piece of the puzzle:

Close to 130 pies came in, and we ran out of strawberry and peanut butter pies.

Lovina mentions some of it was donated; I’m not sure if that’s the case for all of it or how much may have been purchased by Lovina’s family.

These benefit dinners are typically open to the public, and if you have a chance to go to one, I recommend it. Nice opportunity to get some good food in an Amish environment while helping out a good cause.

And it’s also a chance for the Amish to come together and contribute to help others in their community, as Lovina notes: “We appreciated everyone that helped in any way. It takes many hands to do a benefit like this.”

Amish-made cheese

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