Following five years of planning and fundraising, Community Garden Kitchen is looking to complete a first-of-its-kind kitchen in McKinney that will feed anyone experiencing food insecurity with no questions asked or paperwork required, according to a news release from the nonprofit.
“We're actually opening to be like any other restaurant because dining with dignity is one of our goals that we want to provide to our guests,” CGK President Angela Poen said. “So they won't be standing in line. This isn't a soup kitchen.”
Community Garden Kitchen broke ground in December at 501 Howard St., McKinney, but complications with construction arose with the COVID-19 pandemic. While this slowed the efforts to open the new kitchen, the issue of food insecurity became real for even more families in Collin County, Poen said.
The kitchen is now looking to open in December this year, but there are still hurdles to cross. Community Garden Kitchen needs an additional $200,000 in funds for required landscaping and additional construction expenses in order to open the building and is looking for help from the community.
“All of our fundraising norms stopped this year,” Poen said. “As a nonprofit, you raise your money on those events, and all my speaking engagements are canceled. And so it's been very difficult.”
Once the kitchen is operational, there will be a paid chef and kitchen assistant who will prepare meals and supervise volunteers. The plan is to let people coming to the kitchen sit down and have a meal from a limited menu, but that could look different depending on the situation with COVID-19, Poen said.
The kitchen will be open five evenings a week from 6-8 p.m. and will offer free classes on Saturdays to anyone on gardening, nutrition, healthy lifestyle choices and financial management, Poen said.
“I think that COVID[-19] has shown how much this kind of service is needed,” she said. “There are a lot of people that have been laid off or out of work for one reason or another, but the need for healthy, nutritious meals and having that available—I think it's essential not only today, but it certainly will be in the future.”
To learn more about the project or to make a donation, visit www.communitygardenkitchen.org.