"The Community Kitchen has been a definite success," said Charlene Dart, associate pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Monett and co-chairman of the kitchen. "This has proven that our community does have needs."
The Community Kitchen is for those going through a rough time who may not have the capabilites of providing food for themselves and family members. People can come to the Community Kitchen and eat at no charge. The kitchen is open to anyone, and there is no screening. Meals are served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and from 12 to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
The kitchen is housed at the Monett First United Methodist Church, located at 1600 N. Central Ave.
During the first year, the kitchen has served over 10,000 meals. There have been over 1,500 volunteers who have served during the year and given over 9,000 hours of service. This does not include the many hours that go into planning menus, shopping and cooking.
Board members for the Community Kitchen include: Steve Stidham and Charlene Dart, co-chairmen; Carol Stidham and Melissa Priest, co-food coordinators; Marie Medlin, volunteer coordinator; Bill Medlin, transportation coordinator; Kelly West, secretary; Jerri Schmitz, treasurer; Brenda Davis, communications coordinator; Kathy King, grant writer; Raymond Priest, Alma Villagrana, Ann Ellis and Fred Wilkewitz, members at large. Villagrana also takes care of the clothing and food pantry.
Through the Community Kitchen two other outreach programs have organized. Kornerstone Teen Moms is a support program for expectant teens and teen moms. The group holds a family night once a month on the second Tuesday. For more information on the support group, call 417-858-2887.
Celebration Recovery will begin soon to meet the needs of those that have dealt with depression, divorce, addiction and abuse. There will be no fees to attend the meetings and trained volunteers will lead the groups. The recovery program is for all ages. The start date will be announced.
With cold weather moving in, there is a need for good clean coats, gloves and hats, of all sizes and blankets.
"With the weather turning colder and the economic crisis, we have seen more individuals coming in for assistance," said Dart. "The biggest needs in the community seem to be assistance with utilities, gasoline for the car, as well as food."
Any donations can be taken to the church, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Cash donations are being accepted and some of the easiest food donations to distribute are peanut butter and jelly, Ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, and anything that comes boxed that does not require other ingredients.
According to Dart the needs of the community have far exceeded what the kitchen can do alone. The needs are being met by the cooperation of the kitchen with Crosslines, local churches and the Ministerial Alliance.
"The Community Kitchen would like to thank the board of directors, volunteers and every person who has eaten a meal there," said Dart. "The Sunday school classes and other civic organizations have contributed their time and finances to the cause.
"We are grateful for every prayer, each dollar donated, for all our pantry items and the food that has been given," Dart added. "We also thank the Methodist Church for sharing their kitchen and fellowship hall. The generosity makes a difference in people's lives and in the community. We also appreciate the Red Door Ministeries for providing sack lunches each week."
Those having a need can call Dart at 417-235-2364 and leave a message. Anyone wishing to volunteer can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breakfast and a 5K Turkey Trot run will be held on Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day at the church. The Community Kitchen board members will serve the breakfast The first turkey trot will begin at 8:30 a.m. beginning at the church. The 5K run and the one-mile walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. and breakfast will be served from 8 to 10 a.m. The registration proceeds for the Turkey Trot will go towards Crosslines. Those wishing to eat breakfast are asked to bring one canned item that will be donated to Crosslines food pantry.
The Community Kitchen also will be serving a Christmas celebration dinner at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 22 at the church. Santa Claus will be there for the children. Anyone interested in donating a new toy can take it to the church, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.