Fish Fry evokes a long time of recollections, essential assist at Hannibal Diet Middle | Native Information


HANNIBAL — People have enjoyed the Hannibal Nutrition Center’s Fish Fry on Good Friday for more than three decades.

The 32nd Annual Fish Fry will be in a drive-thru format for the second year, said Executive Director Margee Tucker. In 2021, the change was necessary due to COVID precautions. Now, the new format allows for the most efficient way to serve guests with available staff members and volunteers.

“We have to find a different way to do the things we have always done,” she said.

Tucker noted how the pandemic’s effects have been felt in every industry imaginable. Shortages affecting the Hannibal Nutrition Center included pudding, butter and Stryofoam containers vital for the home-delivered meals each day.

Local restaurants have been experiencing shortages as well, and Hannibal Nutrition Center staff have allowed restaurants to use Styrofoam containers when possible.

The rising cost of food shows up with every grocery trip. Tucker said a family of four experiences the change as an overall increase in their bill. For the Hannibal Nutrition Center, that increase applies to a “family of 600.”

Tucker looks forward to a strong turnout for the Fish Fry again this year. She expressed her gratitude for the volunteers who make the event possible. Many of the people assisting indoors and outside give their time during their day off.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used entirely for food costs to support the home-delivered meals program. For $10, people can choose between a whole or filet fried catfish, along with potato salad, baked beans, cornbread and a dessert.

People are welcome to come by from 11 am to 1 pm Friday. Tucker said two lines would likely be set up, and everyone is prepared to serve guests quickly.

Last year, some people said the line extended from the Hannibal Nutrition Center at 219 S. Tenth St. to Third St. at times. They didn’t have to wait long, thanks to the meals being ready to go and the team of volunteers ready to serve everyone.

“It’s exciting. Sometimes we have people that come through that have only come every year for Fish Fry. It’s exciting to see those people every single year.” she said. “It’s a big undertaking, but it’s exciting as well.”

From the beginning, the Fish Fry has been all about family. Debbie Catlett led the effort in the beginning. She passed away in 2019. Every day, her family keeps that legacy burning brightly.

“It’s always been a family thing, because Mom was here first,” Tucker said. “And then, my sister and I helped Mom. Madison, my daughter, came several years ago. Now, all of Jenny’s kids all work here now and help. Fish Fry, especially, is a family thing,” Tucker said, noting her dad loves to be a part of the tradition and her grandchild represents the fourth generation.

Every day, Tucke prices food items to make sure Hannibal Nutrition Center staff are being good stewards with the funds they receive. She stressed how everyone works together to make a positive impact in the community. And she knows her mom is looking down on her family every day.

“Every day you wake up is a blessing, and you just try to bless someone else throughout your day,” she said.

More information is available by calling 573-221-4488.