Joe Anthony Chaves became the millionth person served by Community Kitchen Inc. Monday. (Ilissa Gilmore Photo)
Just a few months shy of its 30th anniversary, Community Kitchen, Inc. served its millionth meal Monday.
The organization began in 1983 with the goal of providing “a lunch meal for people who are hungry,” said President Larry Knadle.
The kitchen, 115 E. Deming St., serves hot meals without charge and there are no qualifications or conditions required to eat. People do not even have to sign in; they simply line up at the kitchen and once the door opens, they take a tray and receive food.
“We don’t even know who they are,” Knadle said. “But if you come down here, we will give you a meal.”
Monday through Friday, the kitchen makes meals available for more than an hour, starting around 11 a.m. The kitchen also provides sack lunches Saturday and Sunday for a half-hour, beginning at 12:30 p.m.
According to the organization’s annual report, it served close to 35,000 meals in 2012, with an average of 96 meals a day.
Knadle said Kitchen Manager Brad Ussery does a great job planning nutritionally balanced meals, which usually consist of a main meat entree and side dishes that include a starch, a vegetable, a salad and a dessert.
Ussery is one of three of the kitchen’s part-time staff members. Other kitchen workers are volunteers from one of the 17 participating churches and organizations.
A nonprofit, Community Kitchen, Inc. relies mostly on donations, Knadle said, though it does receive funding from federal grants. However, he said, the amount of funding given gets smaller and smaller every year.
“We’ve been so blessed by the people of Roswell and the surrounding areas,” Knadle said.
The millionth meal, a tray including beans and sausage, corn, two types of salad and red velvet cake for dessert, went to Joe Anthony Chaves.
Chaves knows the kitchen quite well. Not only does he visit it often, he had once worked there as a dishwasher.
“They’re doing a great community service,” he said. “We all appreciate it.”
He said the kitchen is an asset to the community and without it, “a lot of people would suffer and not eat.”
“They are great cooks and they’re doing great for the community,” he said. “They care about people. They don’t judge.”
In addition to being the millionth person served, Chaves also received a Walmart gift card worth $100.