Welcome to our blog series—At the Table: Baptist Fight Hunger!
Part 17 is by Mary Rolan, deacon and community kitchen day captain at
First Baptist Church, Rome, Ga.
By Mary Rolan
Deuteronomy 15:11 is a Bible verse about God’s concerns for the poor. There will always be poor people in the land, and we are commanded to be openhanded toward the poor and needy.
In 1982, a group of concerned people from churches in Rome began to look at other cities with kitchens that fed the poor. From their endeavors, the Koinonia Soup Kitchen was begun.
In March, 1983 the kitchen became a joint endeavor of the following downtown Rome churches: St. Peter’s Episcopal, First United Methodist, First Presbyterian and First Baptist.
The soup kitchen location rotated weekly so each of the churches hosted for one week each month. In 2009, this joint effort was moved to the former site of Troy’s Barbeque Restaurant on North Broad Street in Rome and is now known as the Community Kitchen.
Lisa Stuenkel, Melanie Baker, and Jim Owens became the coordinators with the above churches as well as other local churches participating. Through the donations of many churches, businesses and individuals, the restaurant and the land around the restaurant were purchased.
There are plans to build a new building to house the kitchen and a supply warehouse, and there are “dreams” for other uses of the building.
In the beginning of the kitchen, food was provided by monetary and food donations. The meals were basic – soup, sandwich, a drink, fruit and cookies. Today, with the aid of food donations from individuals, local restaurants and local businesses, the menu has become more diverse with casseroles, cakes and pies, salad, slaw, chicken, beef, fresh vegetables, etc.
The Community Kitchen serves more than just a meal. Each month the kitchen is decorated with flowers or other seasonal decorations for an inviting atmosphere for meals. The kitchen provides the guests an opportunity to get inside from the cold or heat, an opportunity for fellowship and companionship during a meal and also an opportunity to forget the stresses of their day by being served by others.
Of course, the kitchen also provides the volunteers the opportunity to be the hands of Christ – to serve with a smile and a kind word, to show love and concern. Volunteers and guests are able to become familiar faces to one another out in the community.
A time of prayer is provided before the meal to give thanks for the blessings God has provided.
The Community Kitchen Mission: To provide a daily nutritious meal for the unemployed, working poor, elderly, mentally and physically challenged and homeless in Rome and Floyd County, by providing food obtained by donation and served by volunteers. In this manner, the true spirit of communion, that of sharing God’s gifts with God’s people, can be carried out in a caring and non-judgemental atmosphere.
See additional information about the state of hunger in Floyd County, Ga., courtesy of Map the Meal Gap, a project of Feeding America. Check out statistics for your area with this interactive online tool.