t’s 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and the staff at Marcella’s Kitchen in Benton, Ky. has already fed more than 60 people a nutritious, hot meal. For some of those 60, it may be the only hot meal they will eat that day.
It is also 30 minutes before Marcella’s Kitchen’s brand-new location will open for the weekday lunch hour, where volunteers spend two hours ministering to the people of Marshall County by providing them food and fellowship.
In a new initiative that began in September, Marcella’s Kitchen is now taking the Kitchen out to the people in their community who need it the most. More than 40 Marshall Countians are part of the Kitchen’s new homebound meals program and receive a meal delivery each morning. Combine that with the meals that Marcella’s provides to the Marshall County Exceptional School’s special-needs adult students and that means more than 60 are being fed before the Kitchen doors are open each day.
“Our homebound meals go to people who cannot get out of their house,” says Linda McGregor, a longtime Kitchen volunteer and team leader twice monthly.
“It’s providing substance for them and, hopefully, we are showing them the love of Jesus and that others care for them and their needs.”
The new homebound program is not the only big change that Marcella’s Kitchen has made this year.
Eight years after they first opened their doors in 2011, the organization opened a second set of doors this past May—those in their first very own building.
“We now have our own building, which is beautiful and we’re very happy about it,” says Marcella Perkins, the founder of Marcella’s Kitchen.
The organization undertook a massive project to renovate a former doctor’s office building across from the old Marshall County Hospital as their new location. Marcella says that the renovation was comprehensive, with volunteers working together to remove 43 interior walls to craft a welcoming and expansive dining room area and a commercial kitchen.
The new Marcella’s Kitchen, with this larger footprint and ability to feed more guests, as well as the new homebound program, requires that Marcella and her team of dedicated volunteers grow themselves.
“We do need volunteers because our building is larger, we are serving a lot more people and with the homebound program, we need drivers to help deliver the meals,” Marcella says.
“Anybody that comes always seems to get blessed by being here.”
Linda, who has volunteered at the Kitchen since nearly its beginning, agrees wholeheartedly.
“Volunteering here has made me realize how fortunate that my life has been and how blessed that I have been,” she says.
“It makes me enjoy looking for certain individuals that I’ve learned to look for that comes through. I watch for them and make sure that they are doing okay.”
In the new Marcella’s Kitchen, volunteers like Linda are routinely feeding more than 100 people a day. Marcella knows that her guests are a diverse group with a variety of reasons for being there. But, she doesn’t ask those reasons.
“They don’t have to qualify,” she says.
“We don’t ask any questions.”
“We just show them the love of Jesus and give them a good hot meal.”
The guests that Marcella and her volunteers serve each day receive much more than their meal.
“Since we started this kitchen, I’ve heard many of our seniors say, ‘If it weren’t for this kitchen, I wouldn’t ever get up and get out of the house,’” Marcella says.
“I really believe that some of them don’t talk to anyone else after they leave the Kitchen until they come back the next day.”
“It’s as much, or more, for the fellowship with them than it is even than the hot meal that we give.”
“That’s a big part of our ministry as well.”
This holiday season, when everyone is busy counting their blessings and rejoicing in them, Marcella and the volunteers at Marcella’s Kitchen are certainly realizing that they have a lot to be thankful for. But, there is no time to rest, there are people to feed.
On Thanksgiving, the Kitchen hosted their annual traditional Thanksgiving Dinner and, on December 20, they will invite even more guests into their new Kitchen to host the building’s first of their annual Christmas Dinner.
“Everyone who joins us for Christmas leaves with groceries, produce and a gift from us,” Marcella says.
“They leave with big bags of stuff.”
“It is a blessing for us, and we hope it is a blessing for them as well.”
Marcella’s Kitchen can always find ways for the public to help them achieve their mission of showing the love of Jesus to the people of Marshall County by providing food for the hungry. Here’s how you can get involved:
- Monetary Donations – Donations of money help the Kitchen purchase the food they provide each weekday. You can mail those donations to P.O. Box 272, Benton, KY 42025. You can now sign up for automatic bank draft donations to the Kitchen. Learn more on Facebook or on the Kitchen’s website at www.marcellaskitchen.com.
- Volunteers – The Kitchen’s new homebound outreach and building require even more volunteers. If you are interested in helping out at the Kitchen or driving meals to neighbors, please reach out on Facebook, by visiting the Kitchen during weekday lunch hours 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. or on their website at www.marcellaskitchen.com.
- Food Donations – If you’d like to share the bounty of your garden at home, Marcella’s is happy to accept produce donations. In addition, the staff at Marcella can receive “leftovers” from a catered meal at your event. “We’ve been very blessed to get leftovers from events,” Marcella says. “As long as it’s been cooked in a commercial kitchen, we can serve it and we do. It helps.”
Come One, Come All
Anyone is welcome at Marcella’s Kitchen for lunch each weekday from 11-1. “We are not just for the ones who can’t afford lunch. If you want to come and you can pay, you can always leave a donation in our box. We are here for everyone.”
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