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God's Kitchen - Battle Creek Launches New Capital Campaign Fundraiser
by Doug Allen
Pastor William Stein is ready.
As the Board Chairman for God’s Kitchen in downtown Battle Creek he announced on Monday this week that he’s ready to build a permanent structure to feed the hungry.
In information provided by Pastor Stein, he notes God’s Kitchen – Battle Creek, is the city’s first evening soup kitchen established to serve a hearty and nutritious meal every weeknight for hungry citizens.
Currently their organization serves meals Monday through Thursday, from 5-7 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 80 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Battle Creek.
To date, they have served more than 70,000 meals since they began on October 11, 2011.
Their nonprofit charity is a Certifying Organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award and additionally they have been awarded a Congressional Certificate of Recognition by the United States Congress for feeding the hungry and senior citizens.
Pastor William Stein said they have a Michigan Ave. location picked out near downtown and once legal and code issues can be worked out, he can discuss where they plan to build the new structure.
The project completion date is late 2015 with a project cost of $1.5 million.
He broke the fundraising down as such: $500,000 philanthropic/government grants, $500,000 corporate contributions, $250,000 church donations and $250,000 individuals/family donations.
The new God’s Kitchen – Battle Creek will be between 5,000 and 7,000 square feet and feature a 200 seat dining room, state of the art kitchen, food pantry, administrative offices, conference/training room, sanctuary, restrooms, utility and maintenance rooms.
Additional highlights include the building will be leased for non-alcoholic weddings and receptions; It will have solar panels to reduce utility costs and function during power outages; It will be a new senior meal site to serve free lunches to elderly citizens; It will be handicap accessible for disabled citizens; They will go to five day meal service, at t permanent location and create 10 full and part-time staff positions.
“We’re approaching the end of our agreement with First Baptist Church,” said Stein. “That will conclude June 30, and then July 7 we start at our temporary meal sit at First Congregational Church (145 Capital Ave., NE). Sadly we’re going to have to cut back on our service delivery, because Monday is the only day First Congregational Church has available.
“That way we’ll be able to serve the community at least one day a week, while we’re working to establish our permanent home,” he added. “But once we do open we will go back to our five day a week format.”
At the new God’s Kitchen – Battle Creek, Stein said they plan to expand their outreach and services to senior citizens and have a pastor present at least four of the five evenings.
“I will be preaching on one of the nights, and because the sanctuary will be separate from the dining room, people will not be compelled to go into the sanctuary for services,” he said. “But if they want to go in for a service, there will be a minister there from the community to offer inspirational words from scripture to them.”
After touring several buildings, with assistance from Battle Creek Unlimited, Pastor Stein’s group decided the most prudent route to take would be building from scratch.
“The city and other groups have been most helpful with us trying to find a new location,” he said. “But the environmental aspect of lead paint and asbestos removal and getting a building back up to code, would not be as cost effective as doing it all properly from the ground up.”
He started to list all the design aspects of the new building and his enthusiasm was easy to see on his face.
“I’m excited,” he said. “This is the gospel truth: last Saturday morning when I woke up I had so many things going through my mind. I went into my prayer closet and all of a sudden I felt that tear slowly moving down my cheek. I went into my praise mode because this has been a long time vision.”
One of Pastor Stein’s community partners is Battle Creek Mayor Dave Walters.
“I would invite anyone in town to come downtown and see God’s Kitchen,” said Walters. “You can hear about it, but when you see it with your own eyes and experience it, that’s when it hits home that it’s a real need.”
Prior to becoming a commissioner and Mayor, Walters said that he and his family volunteered at God’s Kitchen.
“My kids were teens at the time and they got to serve, pack meals and deliver them,” he said. “And that’s what I think is important, people know that this place exists, but they don’t know how important it is to certain people. You just have to see it to understand it and you’ll be positively impacted.
“I believe that Pastor Stein is a visionary,” he added. “I believe that every morning he wakes up he wants to do something good for this community.”
Amber Lindsay from Quantum Group said she’s volunteered at God’s Kitchen as well and echoed Mayor Walters’ thoughts on the importance of the facility.
“I’ve explained to my kids that there are way too many people that go to bed every night hungry and don’t have their basic needs met,” she said. “So we’ve served here several times and they want to come back. My youngest, Cole, remarked how nice and warm and grateful everyone is that comes to the kitchen.”
When she and her family served the last time, she brought a hashbrown casserole that she made.
“It’s really simple, but Pastor Stein said they’re still talking about how good it was,” she said. “So the pressure is on, I guess I need to make up another batch! My sister helps me so I thi8nk within the next month we’ll be back. My grandmother used to say, ‘no child should go to bed hungry.’ And that has stuck with me my entire life.”
Pastor Stein said that Richard Schlatter, of Schlatter Design, came up with the campaign slogan for the new God’s Kitchen – Battle Creek, “Put Your Money Where Their Mouth Is.”
For more information contact Pastor Stein at (269) 425-8561.
Donations can be made to God’s Kitchen – Battle Creek Building Fund, P.O. Box 4127, Battle Creek, MI 49016-4127 or visit www.godskitchenbattlecreek.org or check out www.facebook.com/GodsKitchenBattleCreek.