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Plans advancing for a community kitchen in Monett

Monday, October 4, 2010

(Photo)
The sanctuary at First United Methodist Church in Monett

Plans for a community kitchen and an outreach to homeless people in Monett were shared at last week's meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club.

Charlene Dart, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church, talked about the church's long-range and seasonal plans. One of the ideas under discussion for several months has been starting a community kitchen that will serve hot evening meals to Monett residents who need food.

The mission statement for the kitchen project, Dart said, refers to creating "a place where people can come and be treated with dignity and respect."

Dart will head the community kitchen undertaking. Crosslines, the local charity outreach program, will work closely with the effort. Other churches will be involved as well.

Dart stressed that the effort is designed as a community project. Groups will help in meal preparation and serving. By getting a number of groups and congregations involved, Dart said it will be possible to have each group serve once every two or three months. She expected it would take around 80 people to run the community kitchen.

The program will start on Nov. 2. Meals will be served on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. and from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Since many people in need are also lacking in transportation resources, Dart said plans are also in the works to offer transportation to the meal site at the First United Methodist Church's Family Life Center. Initially, people will to be transported to the Family Life Center from Crosslines at Cleveland and Sixth Street. Other shelter pick-up points like bus stops may be used later.

The need for food has been demonstrated by activity at Crosslines. According to Jolene Garoutte, Crosslines director, the local charity has provided food for more than 4,000 people this year. Several homeless people living out of their cars have come to Crosslines for aid as well.

Monett R-1 School Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann confirmed the school district has seen growing need as well. The percentage of students qualifying under federal guidelines for free or reduced price meals has grown from 40 percent around 10 years ago to 50 percent in 2010.

Unemployment in the Monett area is now figured at 9.2 percent, close to the national average.

Dart sais people who come seeking food would not be screened. Organizers at Victory Mission in Springfield told Dart many people using the meal program there come to have someone they can talk to, someone who cares.

The size of the population that may need meals is not known, Dart said. Fliers on the service will be distributed at Crosslines. The R-1 School District will have teachers refer those whom they know are hungry or need help.

"We want to touch people's hearts and help them," Dart said.

Financial support for the program will be needed. Dart said $15,000 in donations have been received to date and another $10,000 grant is being sought.

Dart also spoke about the church's plans for the annual City of Bethlehem. A representation of a town in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago will be assembled for visitors in the church's Family Life Center in December.

Visitors will get to view a slide show on the historic setting of the Christmas story then walk through the city itself. Stops will include a room of money changers, a camp of astrologers, King Herod's palace, a craft shop, the crowded inn where the Holy Family visited and a stable area outdoors with live sheep.

The church will also host a 5K run and family walk on Oct. 16 as a fundraiser for Crosslines. Free pancakes will be available for the walkers at the church. Mocha Jo's will be selling baked goods to support Crosslines as well.

Kiwanis President Randy Henderson presided at the meeting. Clif Crockett was program chairman.

In club news, the annual Kiwanis installation banquet will be held on Oct. 12 at Grant's restaurant.

The Monett Kiwanis Club meets weekly at noon for a meal and a program, usually at Happy House restaurant.



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