KALAMAZOO, Mich. — It was business as usual at Ministry with Community on Monday afternoon.
Three cooks were in the kitchen preparing lunch for hundreds of men and women experiencing homelessness.
“It’s even more imperative now, in my opinion, that the critical services agencies like Ministry with Community stay open,” said Executive Director Kelly Henderson. “A lot of the folks that we serve do not have access to other living quarters and don’t have access maybe to other meal services.”
She said on average the nonprofit feeds 300-500 homeless people a day, serving them breakfast and lunch.
“We have no limits on the number of folks who are coming into our facility,” Henderson said. “We’ve been in contact obviously with the health department, keeping in communications with the CDC and State of Michigan and our county resources as well.”
She said fortunately, they have not had to turn anyone away nor let any staff go, despite canceling their biggest fundraising event of the year: Chefs Against Hunger.
“It was really sad to cancel,” Henderson said. “But we knew that we couldn’t have that many folks in one space and amp up the potential for the spread of the virus.”
The event was scheduled for March 24 at Cityscape Events Center, where chefs compete against one another in making the most creative and tasty dishes using a select few ingredients.
She said the event typically raises $30,000, which supports the nonprofit’s food budget, staffing, and costs to keep the kitchen running. However, losing that amount of money was ‘devastating loss’
“We’re making preparations for really bare-bones staffing scenarios,” Henderson said, should the pandemic worsen. “So the need is great. And, we will continue to operate.”
Henderson teared up when asked if her greatest fear would be letting staff go.
She said they’re not going to do that nor will they close the facility. However, financial donations will help them to stay afloat.
“I am nervous that we may potentially find ourselves in that circumstance,” Henderson said. “But I really am quite optimistic that we will rally and figure out ways to continue providing our services to those in need in our community.”
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