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On March 27, 1983, a group of Franciscan nuns in Springfield served the first plate of food to locals at a brand new Soup Kitchen in the St. Agnes Grade School cafeteria. Today (Wednesday), The Kitchen, Inc. celebrates thirty years of service to the community. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.
As The Kitchen’s executive director Rorie Orgeron explains, the organization is no longer known as a “soup kitchen,” even though it started as one 30 years ago.
“A soup kitchen is typically where people come in off the street, get a meal, eat a meal, and then they’re gone. Actually, we stopped that about fifteen years ago. We concentrate on women and families living in the Missouri Hotel. We still feed one hundred thousand or more meals a year, but it’s typically all the people that live in the Missouri Hotel, or on our campus.”
In the last three decades, The Kitchen Inc. has expanded from a soup kitchen to a progressive innovator that works to meet the root cause of poverty and homelessness in Springfield. The Missouri Hotel is just one of the many programs offered to the community. It provides shelter, counseling, healthcare, education, youth services, clothing and life skills. Since its start, numerous programs have blossomed under the umbrella of The Kitchen’s services.
“The Missouri Hotel, Maggie’s & Lorraine’s, which are two thrift stores, Fresh Start, which is a program that accepts donations of household items, Transitional Living Program, a daycare center for children living at the Missouri Hotel, a medical clinic that has been going on now for twenty seven years, we have Rare Breed, which is our youth program…” Orgeron said.
And don’t forget Bill’s Place and Journey Home, two partnership programs set up with Burrell Behavioral Health. The Kitchen, Inc. just recently launched a new program, Safe to Sleep, which helps provide shelter and protection for single women living on the streets.
The need for these services isn’t going away, Orgeron says. As long as it’s in Springfield, The Kitchen, Inc. will work to provide these amenities, and more in the future, to people struggling with poverty.
The organization started out in a grade school cafeteria. Today, it owns over a block’s worth of building space to support these programs.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.
This morning (Wednesday), the organization hosted a birthday party of sorts, which included keynote speakers, a campus tour, and food and beverages. Over 80 people toured the campus for the special anniversary event, despite the cold and wind.