CAPS Community Kitchen helps those in need

Published 10:00 am Friday, May 24, 2024

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The Correlation Against Poverty in Suffolk (CAPS) is continuing to help Suffolk residents with food insecurities with their CAPS Community Kitchen.

The weekly Friday night dinner has seen success since its start back on Nov. 29 last year, providing food to those in need and will continue to serve from 5 to 7 p.m. on Fridays, with its final night set for Friday, May 31. The program serves at three locations: Main Street United Methodist Church at 202 N. Main St., First Baptist Main Street at 237 N. Main St., and Suffolk Masonic Lodge #30 at 247 N. Main St. Along with seeing support from various churches, including Liberty Springs Church, Oakland Christian Church and CAPS Community Kitchen Coordinator Karla Sanchez, Service Administrator Jan Pruden and CAPS Intern Jayda Pierce each had a chance to discuss the program for those unaware. Sanchez says guests who haven’t yet attended can expect a good meal, fellowship and a safe place.

“We’re open to everybody in the community, not only the homeless, but anybody that feels the need for a meal and some companionship and some friendship,” Sanchez says. “Also, the churches that provide the meals or anybody in the community that would like to provide a meal is more than welcome to contact us and come and serve.”

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Sanchez talked about bringing the project together. Despite the “slow start” with the first day having three guests, the kitchen has now served up to 36 guests thanks to Sanchez’s work in getting the word out.

“I beat the street!” Sanchez said. “I got my little flyers and we went up and down Washington and the conspicuous spots where we know they gather and I introduced myself and invited them over and little by little, the group kept growing…”

Sanchez says that the kitchen makes enough for people to have seconds or thirds and take food home. The community kitchen also provides breakfast and a bagged lunch for the next day.

“So something that started a little slow has grown to be just a beautiful community,” she said.

Pierce says working with the kitchen gives a different perspective on the guests’ lives.

“Being able to sit down and have a conversation with them, [not just] how life was for them that week, but their past life. Like, what did they used to do, what college they went to or what do they want to do in the future,” she said. “It was just learning how to talk with people that you’ve not known before, but learning how to fellowship with each other. It was really fun, I love talking to people, so it was really interesting.”

Sanchez shared a story about a homeless kitchen guest with her son.

“In the coldest days of December, she had been sleeping outside in a dumpster…and different places for weeks and came to find out that she had been homeless since July. We picked her up and put her in a hotel and then after that, we contacted ForKids and were able to get her some assistance through ForKids and the School Board, and now she was placed in a home,” she said.

Detailing that the guest is now starting a job and attending workforce training, Sanchez calls the moment a “beautiful, successful story.” Likewise, she expressed that while CAPS will not continue the kitchen during the summer, she hopes that local churches will find a way to continue with the kitchen.

On upcoming CAPS events, Pruden detailed a CAPS lunch and learn hosted by Suffolk Workforce Development and a Barbecue Fundraiser in September. Pruden also expressed that people can continue to support CAPS in helping the Suffolk community.

“What we would say to people both who are clients and also people who know that there is need. Of course we are a nonprofit, so we always need funding of any type,” Pruden said.