By Jon King /

As the Lenten fish-fry season comes to a close tonight, one local church says its efforts to adapt to pandemic restrictions have paid off in ways they had only prayed would be possible.

St. Mary Catholic Church in Pinckney’s annual fish fry events have raised money through the years for educational scholarships. Faced with being unable to host indoor gatherings, they moved to a drive-thru format utilizing younger school families, students and volunteers.

Carissa Poroko with St. Mary School tells WHMI that the main financial goal for the dinners was to generate $15,000 for the scholarship program. “Initially that goal seemed daunting because the initiative has never generated that kind of profit in all the years of St Mary Fish Dinners. But, thanks to a unique combination of newly married volunteers who gave the effort a shot of faith, heart and readiness to give back, that goal is expected to be achieved after our last dinner (Friday).”

She said they have sold around 600 dinners each Friday for the past five weeks and the average wait time being just four minutes and 32 seconds. Poroko says that with the help of a Dave Plait, who owns Hungry Howie’s and several A&W franchises, they were able to streamline the process so the food stays hot longer and retains moisture, noting he also refined their packaging as certain materials have a tendency to dry out the cheesy potatoes.

She said Plait has also helped them keep overhead down and their pace up from the kitchen to waiting cars. Poroko noted that Plait’s kids went to St. Mary “back in the day so it’s a cool connection.”