NORMAN — It quite possibly could be the best deal in town. For the low, low price of $5, the Christian Men’s Fellowship of First Christian Church in Norman will serve up a piping hot bowl of beans, a drink, cornbread and will even throw in a cookie for dessert.
The best part about the church’s annual Benefit Bean Dinner, in its 23 years, is that the proceeds go to the medication fund of Health for Friends, a Norman nonprofit that has provided 25 years of patient-centered health care to the medically needy.
This year’s bean dinner will be Tuesday. Lunch is served at the church, 220 S. Webster Ave., from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dinner is served from 4:30-7 p.m. For $5, individuals get all the beans (white beans and brown beans) they can eat, along with cornbread, dessert and drinks. Take-out is available as well.
“The members of CMF put a lot of work into this. It begins with sorting and cleaning the beans and baking thousands of oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies the weekend before the dinner,” said Gary Hardwick, associate minister from First Christian Church. “A crew arrives at 4 a.m. on the day of the dinner and begins the cooking. Then there are kitchen and serving staff for both lunch and dinner. And all of the men sell tickets. We have about 70 men of all ages who work in various roles to make the bean dinner a success.”
The first few dinners, Hardwick said, were small. But, over the years the First Christian Church bean dinner has become one of Norman’s biggest events.
“As with many projects, the first few bean dinners were small, but with the support of the church and many individuals, businesses and organizations in the community, it has grown,” Hardwick said. “I think it speaks to the dedication of the men at First Christian Church that this event is still part of Norman and so successful. The first bean dinner served about 400 people and we sold around 500 tickets. Last year, and this year, our ticket sales are approaching almost 2,000. Over the last several years, we have sold approximately 1,800 tickets every year and serve about 900 to 1,100 people on the day of the dinner. It has become a well-known event in the community, and every year as we serve the food and wait on tables, we hear people speak about how much they look forward to the bean dinner. Just between you and me, I think we have a great recipe for our beans. They are tasty.”