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Demand For Community Kitchen Keeps Growing

DALLAS -- The James2 Community Kitchen has seen an impressive response since opening its doors in March.

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Reagan Davis, 12, serves a gelatin dessert with whipped cream to Debbie Rempel and Karen Rempel during a recent meal hosted by the James2 Community Kitchen in Dallas.

DALLAS -- The James2 Community Kitchen has seen an impressive response since opening its doors in March.

The kitchen, which serves meals to the hungry the last two Tuesdays of each month at Dallas United Methodist Church, has witnessed a steady rise in the number of people seeking a hot meal.

But the kitchen also is rich in those willing to donate their time and talent to put food on the table.

"The response has been just tremendous," said John Stein, the chairman of the James2 Community Kitchen's board of directors. "We think we are well on our way to growing this program."

James2 will take its first step in expanding in November, when the doors will be open every Tuesday instead of just the final two Tuesdays of each month.

Stein said starting with only two days a month was part of the strategy. The group didn't want to be overwhelmed in the beginning. As it turns out, that hasn't been a problem. Volunteer response and financial assistance has been so strong, board members thought now was the time to expand.

That means they need more volunteers and money, but if the support so far is any indication of what it will be in the future, the kitchen will manage just fine, Stein said.

Volunteer server Wendy Compton said extra days are needed. She has been involved since the first meal was served and has seen the number of people stopping by for dinner double. On average, the kitchen now serves about 100 meals each night it is open.

"We have repeat customers and lots of new people," Compton said.

Growth has increased with awareness and word-of-mouth publicity, but with plans to put out even more advertising, James2 likely will see more hungry people.

"If there is a continued response, we'll even increase it more in the future," Stein said.

Thinking even further down the road, Stein said the next step for James2 is finding a home of its own.

The board is keeping all options on the table as far as what form a permanent location will take. It may be a vacant building, or one they build from the ground up.

Kitchen managers are looking into grants to pay for a permanent home.

In the meantime, however, the pastor of the kitchen's current location said he and his congregation are happy to host James2.

Dallas United Methodist Church Pastor Jeremy Hajdu-Paulen said offering a place for the kitchen matches perfectly with the United Methodist Church's Oregon/Idaho regional mission of finding ways to combat hunger.

"We are very excited about the number of people they have been feeding and that it has increased," Hajdu-Paulen said. "The need is definitely there."

Meals are served from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the last two Tuesdays of the month at Dallas United Methodist Church, 565 SE LaCreole Drive. Starting in November, the kitchen will be open each Tuesday.

For more information or to volunteer, call Donna Davis at 503-508-8421.

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