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  • Jack H. Bender

Community Kitchen

As we went through the food line, we discovered that the main dish was pizza at Holland’s Community Kitchen. We were asked for how many slices we’d like. Soup of the day was tomato-chicken-rice and we had a choice of pie or fruit. Just the idea of Community Kitchen gets me smiling. A free lunch is served every weekday for those experiencing food insecurity and on Saturday the Pancakes R Us crew serves breakfast (smiling wider). I’ve thought of some reasons why the Community Kitchen is terrific (though there must be many more).

Walking the talk – meals are served at Hope College’s Western Theological Seminary. Theology gets a heart, feet and hands.

Recognize need – On our race to the top, we are often unaware of the needs of others. The kitchen addresses a pressing need of the poor.

Partnership – So many things can be done better, together. The Community Kitchen is a joint venture of Community Action House and Western Theological Seminary.

Defend dignity – Justice is about insuring that people get what they deserve. People deserve food security and the kitchen contributes to that end.

Outlet for goodness – Humans are full of goodness and the kitchen offers a place where volunteers can express their love for all of humanity.

Community formation – The atmosphere at lunch is decidedly upbeat with those at a table enjoying each other’s company, often breaking into laughter.

Accompaniment – Making a monetary donation is quite different from walking with or being with someone experiencing poverty. The comfortable and the challenged need each other. Accompaniment is a process whereby those experiencing poverty can move out of poverty while a champion walks along side. It is an intimate relationship. Its Latin roots mean together with bread.

Outlet for companies – It seemed obvious that the pizza was from Little Caesars. Our nation’s early companies were based on service to the community. If a company did not serve well, its compact was not renewed. Just like people, companies need healthy outlets for their resources.

Other-oriented – In an era of he who dies with the most toys wins, caring for one’s neighbor or welcoming the stranger pushes against the distortions of our day.

Strategic – the CAH website states that the kitchen - is our doorway to those struggling with poverty. A check-in with a guest can confirm stability or uncover a need.

Example (model, norm) – While we can raise up Community Kitchen for its contribution, we should not suggest it is an anomaly. The kitchen is a humble witness to what should be the norm, actions that testify that we are our neighbor’s keeper.


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