A Maplewood church is preparing to bring free meals to their neighborhood.
Maplewood Pentecostal Church of God Pastor Philip Centers, and his wife Mary, are transforming their former fellowship hall, at 2150 Yale Avenue, into “The Branch Kitchen,” and it’s all with donations.
Pastor Centers said last year a former member of the church gave them money to start a kitchen to feed anyone who might need an occasional free meal — the unemployed, those having trouble making ends meet, the homeless.
That donation and donated kitchen equipment, paint from Home Depot, a cargo van from a Fenton church and architect Barry Greenberg’s services — Centers estimates comes to $175,000.
“We’ll have a drop ceiling with all new lights, and the old duct work will all be torn out, new electrical, the floor will be painted with little glitter sparkles in there. It’s gonna look fantastic, with everything new in the kitchen,” he said.
“It’s not any credit for us because we’re just coordinators. It wasn’t our money, but all of the coordinating did fall to us,” he said. “If we’re just the instruments to bring it together, how can we say no?”
They’re looking for an executive director to help run it and get the word out. The kitchen will be organized as a not for profit.
“Once a month is not enough,” Centers said. “I want someone that can find out the big need, and if we need to go once a week, or twice a week, then that person can help organize the food and the volunteers. I think the volunteer pool is going to be huge. We are hoping to feed everybody, but our hope is to really find the ones that need the help.”
Mary said there are a lot of seniors in the area, “And especially if they’re on a lot of medications, sometimes it may come down to, ‘do I eat this meal?’ This is a chance, for at least once a month, they can come and eat without having to worry about paying a bill,” she said.
She said they should be able to serve their first meal around the end of March. They’re planning a big meal to kick it off to help get the word out.