A fundraising campaign is currently under way to help The Community Kitchen move into a larger facility, and time is running out to meet the goal. The nonprofit needs $20,000 for the down payment by April 10 and another $100,000 to renovate the new building to fit its needs.
Executive Director Kim Czaja said the need for free meals has grown so much in the last few years that The Community Kitchen needs more space to be able to meet its mission of feeding the community.
“Last Friday I was cooking and we had 50 people show up but we only have enough seating for 40 people,” she said. “The need is here more than we realize.”
The Community Kitchen was formed in 2007 by a coalition of people from different churches in the community. The food ministry has been located at 98 Pisgah Drive — the former Handee Stop — for about eight years and has been serving dinner every night since then.
Now the time has come for The Community Kitchen to move into a larger building. After looking for the perfect location for several years, Czaja said the board finally agreed to purchase property and a building at 394 Champion Drive in Canton — better known as the old EZ Stop.
While the current location is about 1,400 square feet, the new facility is 7,000 square feet with room to expand on the 1.5-acre tract of land. Czaja said the sellers gave The Community Kitchen a great deal on the purchase. With an accepted offer of $90,000, the nonprofit is getting the property and building for half of the listing price. The tax value is $350,000.
Czaja said about $10,000 has already been raised for the down payment and with the pledges still coming in, the organization should be close to meeting its goal by April 10. Coming up with the renovation funding is the most important goal right now because leaders don’t want to have to pay rent at the current location while also having to pay a mortgage at the new location. The Community Kitchen will also need in-kind donations of time, paint, construction supplies and more.
Czaja is hopeful all the hard work will pay off in the end. The new location will provide more kitchen space, storage, dining area, parking and even classroom space.
“We’ll be able to add two classrooms for things like GED, resume building and basic financial classes for the community,” she said. “Right now those types of classes are only offered in Waynesville, but if I had the space, groups like LifeWorks said they’d hold classes here.”
Czaja would also like to see The Community Kitchen offer more healthy eating classes and teach people how to can and preserve food.
“My ultimate hope is that we’re not needed one day,” she said. “Our goal is to get people out of poverty, but until then we’re going to keep helping people in need.”
The Community Kitchen volunteers serve an evening meal every night at 5 p.m., seven days week, 52 weeks a year. In 2014, more than 12,500 plates were served. In addition to the dinner, the organization distributes food boxes to families twice a month. More than 1,600 boxes were given out in 2014.
To make a donation toward the new location, visit www.cantoncommunitykitchen.org/new-location-coming or mail a check to The Community Kitchen, 98 Pisgah Drive, P.O. Box 513, Canton, N.C., 28716 or call 828.648.0014.