In the early 1990's, Jane Drook operated a soup kitchen at the Community Church of the Cross. I had helped Webster Methodist Church furnish pies on the last Thursday of the month. Then I started assisting Jane weekly. Sometime in 1993, Jane's church closed and so did the kitchen.In May of 1994, Reverand Ralph Brown of St. Paul's Episcopal Church called us to see if we would consider running a kitchen in their church. We composed a letter and mailed it to numerous churches explaining our mission. In September of 1994 we began serving meals only on Thursday. The churches involved were: St. John's Lutheran, First Assembly of God, St. Paul's Episcopal, and Webster/Chester Heights Methodist.
Later, we recruited more churches so we could feed on Wednesdays also. They were Reid Memorial Presbyterian, Catholic Community, First English Lutheran, Fountain City Wesleyan, First Presbyterian, and United Bretheren. First Assembly of God, Reid Presbyterian, and St. John's Lutheran have left us. First Presbyterian serves twice a month now. The Wetzel family and Lions Club have joined us as well. Churches choose a menu, provide the food, prepare it, serve, and help with clean-up. We are now serving about 80 people the beginning of the month to 140 people the last week of the month.
In 1998, Jessie Johnson joined the volunteer staff and became a co-ordinator with me when Jane's health failed. When we first opened, church people prepared food in their homes and then brought it to the kitchen to serve. The Wayne County Health Department put a stop to that. They inspected our kitchen at St. Paul's and required Jessie and I to be certified in food safety in order to be in charge.
Krogers and Sav-A-Lot donate bread, pies, cakes, and other goodies each week, if available. In the past, Taste of Love and Lo Bills have blessed us with donations as well. Whatever we don't use for meals, we give out to the public to take home, after our meal on Thursdays. We have been blessed with monetary donations from individuals, VFW Auxillary, banks, and grants from a family foundation. We assist the Wayne County Coon Hunters every year at their annual "Autumn Oaks" and they, in return, bless our kitchen with a nice donation. The money enables us to keep the pantry shelves full.
We will give a person one bag of groceries a month, if needed. We supply coffee, iced tea, sugar, and creamer for our meals along with other condiments. We also supply plates for all organizations except First English because they require a larger size. McDonald's is blessing us with cold and hot cups along with napkins.
In the past we have assisted some families who have had fires. We purchase city bus passes for those who need. We have close ties to the Hope House recovery program, and will occasionally buy bus passes for those who are doing well. We have also had to help some families with prescriptions. All of our helpers are volunteers. They come in early Wednesday and Thursday morning to make coffee and tea. They also make sure that everything is ready before we open the doors at 9:30 AM. They also assist in serving drinks, shopping, and clean-up.