To help ease the hunger pains of Delaware County residents a local church is establishing a soup kitchen with hopes of not only filling empty stomachs, but also filling empty hearts.
The Caring Kitchen, a ministry of Newsong Church, will open its doors on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The kitchen's goal is to reach those individuals and families that are falling between the cracks and for whatever reason are not able to obtain a hot and nutritious meal, said Rev. Marty Dyer.
Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has a soup kitchen been in Delaware County, he said.
The Caring Kitchen is located about a quarter of a mile north of the Zena turnoff in front of Newsong Church on state highway 59.
Dyer, who also serves as a Grove city councilman, said the church's food outreach ministry is important to the community. The communities of Grove and Jay already have food pantries and The Caring Kitchen is not to replace those groups, he said.
The Tulsa Food Bank, which supplies food to Jay and Grove food pantries, is running around $5 million behind in contributions.
"We are here to help those food pantries - not replace them," Dyer said.
Several church members spent several weeks remodeling the church's former daycare uilding to house the soup kitchen. It was during that time the need became so obvious to Dyer and the rest of the workers.
"We had people stopping by wanting food," Dyer said.
The Caring Kitchen was birthed in Norm and Friday Ferguson's heart after years of prayer.
Material things don't matter eternally, he said.
After retiring to Grand Lake, the Ferguson's began to take inventory of their blessings, namely their large family of healthy children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.
"We wanted a tangible project to thank God for his blessings," said Friday Ferguson. "This recession has been hard on America, but especially Delaware County," said Norm Ferguson.
"Around 56 percent of Delaware County residents live below the poverty line. One in four families in Delaware County doesn't know where their next meal is coming from."
Funding from local businesses and individuals has made a way for the soup kitchen to open in a few short weeks, rather than months, he said.
The kitchen is staffed with volunteers from area churches. Some volunteers provide the basic service of cooking and cleaning-up; other volunteers are able to provide assistance by providing a list of government services available to meet immediate needs.
"We are here to serve the community by feeding those in need," Friday Ferguson said. "Our goal is to provide spiritual and physical support to those in need by building relationships and opening the doors of communitarian, while also satisfying their hunger."