The annual meal that has given much to many in the Meridian area for more than half a century returns in February.
The 57th annual Kentucky Ham Meal — featuring Kentucky Ham, redeye gravy, grits, scrambled eggs, homemade biscuits and preserves and, according to organizers, LOTS of coffee — will be presented by First Christian Church on two days: Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 6:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and from 5-7 p.m., and Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 6:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
A major fundraiser for the Meridian church, 2,700 plates were served at last year’s event and $19,000 was raised, according to chairman Mary Gilmore.
“Proceeds go toward several local and statewide causes,” Gilmore said.
Those causes include the East Mississippi Boys and Girls Club, The Care Lodge, Meridian Freedom Project, the Laurie Autry Fund, LOVE’s Kitchen, Southern Christian Services, Anderson Regional Cancer Center and Blair Batson Children’s Hospital.
In addition to providing good food and a spirit of philanthropy, the Kentucky Ham Meal also promotes fellowship.
First, among the church membership.
“This is a churchwide effort that involves all our members for the good of the community,” Gilmore said. “Everyone is involved, whether its preparing and cooking the food, serving, selling tickets or cleaning up, we’re in this together.”
First Christian also receives assistance with the meal from other churches and organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club and the Shipmates from NAS Meridian.
“This draws a lot of people from the community, so we really appreciate the help we get from others to make it a success,” Gilmore said.
The Kentucky Ham Meal also is a time of fellowship for those who choose to enjoy the meal in the church’s fellowship hall.
“For a lot of people it’s a time to socialize and enjoy the meal with people they don’t see often, or to establish new friendships,” Gilmore said.
In addition to the fellowship hall, the meal will be served in the church’s newly restored Merritt House (located next door) which is handicap accessible. Drive-thru is also available, as well as carry out.
About the KHM
The tradition of the Kentucky Ham Meal began in 1963 as a call for help. An appeal went out to the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) to help in modernizing Jackman Memorial Hospital in Bilaspur, India.
Wanting to respond to the need, FCC of Meridian's Christian Women's Fellowship decided to sponsor a fundraiser. At the suggestion of Dr. and Mrs. Apperson, who had come to the Meridian church the previous year, the first Kentucky Ham Breakfast was organized.
The Appersons traveled to Kentucky and purchased 60 pounds of Kentucky cured hams and brought them back in the trunk of their car for the first breakfast. Almost $600 was raised for an offering sent to the Jackman Hospital that year.
Tickets for the 57th Annual Kentucky Ham Meal are $8 per plate and may be purchased from any church member, at the church office or at the door on the days of the meal. The church is located at 1301 23rd Ave. For more information, call the church office at 601-693-1425.