Community Garden Kitchen, a grass-roots effort to feed the hungry in McKinney, is getting closer to having a facility as planners roll out an initiative to raise money for the construction of a 4,500-square-foot lunchroom/gathering space and commercial kitchen facility at Holy Family School.
After coming together in 2014 to address the issue of hunger in the area, a group of concerned citizens decided it was time to do something to provide healthy meals free of charge or obligation.
“Sad stories and crisis we hear about often compel us to want to do something,” Community Garden Kitchen organizer Angela Poen said. “Many times that’s as far as it goes—just wanting to help.”
However, witnessing local day laborers in despair prompted a conversation among Poen and her friends as they dined and saw the excess of food after their gathering.
“While enjoying an abundance of food at our monthly Bible study meeting, my friends started discussing the fact that McKinney had no kitchen to feed the hungry,” Poen said.
Julie Smith, who serves on the board of Holy Family School, said the school was also in need of a new kitchen and lunchroom. That is when the idea for Community Garden Kitchen was born, she said.
The group decided to construct the kitchen at the site of Holy Family School. The school does not have its own kitchen, and lunches must be delivered daily from a neighboring church kitchen.
The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas donated the land to be used for construction of the kitchen/cafeteria for joint use by the school and the nonprofit.
During the day the kitchen will serve students attending Holy Family School. After school hours, the kitchen will serve the community and feed those in need.
“As we began work on the project, we discovered the truth about hunger in McKinney,” Poen said. “In our schools, one in four students are food-insecure.”
Founders are trying a unique approach with their fundraising efforts. The initiative is called 500 x 500, which includes a focus of gathering 500 groups to each raise $500 to fund construction.
The estimate for the construction cost is between $650,000 and $700,000.
“With a vested interest, we hope this would also become a community project with a volunteer base to serve the food,” fellow committee member Judy Shaw said.
Planning committee members who are in the community searching for support say the response has been positive.
“When we make a personal connection and talk one on one or with small groups, the interest in our project is extremely high,” Shaw said. “There’s a lot happening in McKinney and many ways to help others. We need them to know what’s unique about this and why Community Garden Kitchen is special.”
“We firmly believe that community involvement and support are critical to the success of this dream,” she said. “Our hope is that all churches, organizations and businesses will realize how a meal kitchen will improve and strengthen McKinney.”
Community Garden Kitchen
500 Throckmorton St.