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Dec 30, 2007 04:21 PM

The Spaghetti Social (Still Alive?)

Many years ago I lived in ThunderBay, Ontario. There was a large Italian population there and they would hold a Spaghetti Social dinner every couple of weeks or so as a fund raiser for their community projects. You could go and dine in a specific area with crusty bread , salad and wine etc. along with others or you could bring your own pail/bowl/pot or some other container and you could get the spaghetti and sauce to go.
All for a set price.
I loved this type of community social with the Italian ladies cooking up batches of authentic Italian "spaghet" and the gentlemen serving.
Does anyone remember these type of SPAGHETTI dine up, fund raisers. and are there any still going on today?

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  1. My high school in Morris County, NJ used to do the exact same thing as a fundraiser for the music program. It was only a couple of times per year, though. It was the late-80's and I know it continued for awhile, but I don't know if they still do it.

    Around here (Union County, NJ), pancake breakfasts seem to be the big fundraising event.

    1. VFW, Ladies Auxiliary, Lions Club, Rotary all coordinate spaghetti dinners to raise funds. We also attended cookie swaps, ice cream socials, seafood steamers and pie & cake contests to help various causes. The recipe collections that often appear for sale during the activities are some of my favorite cookbooks.

      1. One of my most hilarious (though not at the time) near-disaster stories involves a spaghetti fundraising dinner when I was executive director of a small nonprofit 20 some years ago. We hired a local person who was just getting established as a caterer-- the staff person who recommended her didn't tell me that she was Indian-- which would have been fine, but she didn't exactly know how to make spaghetti. The sauces- one meat, one veggie-- were the most godawful stuff! My husband and I were poor enough to be very frugal, and we took the leftovers home and froze them-- two big tubs of sauce-- and then threw them out the first time we tried to eat it, because it was so very very horrid. I don't know what fat/oil the caterer had used, but it was all wrong, as was the spicing. During the dinner itself, our caterer didn't know how to keep pace with the crowd, and the spaghetti was getting crunchier and crunchier as the line moved faster than she could boil spaghetti. We were only saved from disaster by the guest speaker (the very popular mayor) arriving and we called a halt to serving while he spoke so that-- although we didn't say this-- the cook could get the spaghetti ready. 150 people at $15 a head, and they weren't coming for the food, and the mayor was a huge coup for a neighborhood group in a big city, so overall the thing was a success, financially and otherwise, but the staff rolled on the floor laughing hysterically for years afterward every time we thought of it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Anne H

          Unlike your experience, I watched an Indian prepare me pasta by placing a pound of uncooked pasta in a pot of ice cold water and bringing it to a boil. I said to myself 'That can't be right' and sat patiently expecting a disappointing meal. Believe it or not, to this day I remark about the texture that pasta had. It was PERFECT. Ironically, I don't prepare pasta this way -- I opt for the more traditional route.

          1. re: Cheese Boy

            Interesting. Must be how they are taught. DH (also East Indian) does the exact same thing, and it drives me crazy.......the only thing that has saved him from my wrath is that the only time he cooks pasta is if he's making a quick dinner for the kids when I'm not around to eat or watch.....but apparently the kids like his pasta, so I guess it turns out ok....

            Our school once did a spaghetti fundraising dinner, and various home cooks made the sauce. It turned out fine, but we had the same problem with getting the spaghetti cooked and ready for hundreds all at once.....folks were waiting a long time...

            The worst fundraiser we ever did (at least from a $$ standpoint) was a Mexican dinner. A wonderful Mexican cook (and experienced caterer) volunteered her time to oversea preparation. She had a bunch of us moms come the night before and help her make tamales and was a great cooking lesson! Then the morning of the event we woke up to snow....and school was cancelled. By that evening the snow had all melted and the skies had cleared, and we were all willing to spread the word that dinner was on...but the principal refused. She said that if school was cancelled she wasn't coming in that day, and without her there could be no fundraiser. So those of us who knew, and those who showed up anyway, got food at ridiculously cheap prices and took it home to freeze.......

            1. re: janetofreno

              We did spaghetti dinners for church dinners and functions in San Francisco. Many of the elementary schools associated with the church have a gym with a small kitchen and spaghetti was quick, easy, and cheap to make.

        2. frugal
          It's still done in NY, mostly as Church, or Non Profit fundraisers. Sometimes, they
          have, "Dessert Socials" instead. It's nice to see that Grassroots fundraising is alive and well.

          1. Our local volunteer fire departments and some churches still hold spaghetti, ice cream, chili, all you can eat chicken and fish, and other "socials" to raise money for different causes. It can vary from buying new equipment for the firehouse to raising money for a family in need from chronic illness. loss of their home through a disaster, or other reasons. They also do pancake breakfasts from time to time. Not too long ago, my son's school did a hog roast to raise money for a bus driver who has breast cancer.