New community kitchen to open at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Albion
Meals will be served on Thursdays at East Avenue church
ALBION – Mike and Faith Smith are about to embark on a new mission in their goal to help feed the needy in the Albion area.
After running the Community Soup Kitchen at Christ Episcopal Church for 13 years, the couple is now planning to open Orleans Koinonia Kitchen (the Orleans OK Kitchen) at Harvest Christian Fellowship, 560 East Ave.
Faith said the name Orleans Koinonia Kitchen was suggested by the Rev. Tim Lindsay, who explained “koinonia” is Greek for fellowship. The Smiths want make sure everyone who comes to the OK Kitchen, as it will be known, knows they are seen as a person, not a number.
They plan to hand out goodie bags each week and will have a birthday box in which they will record the birth month and day of everyone who comes to dinner. The week of their birthday, they will receive a personalized card and a gift. Faith said they are looking for donations to buy gifts for birthday observances.
“It’s the little things like that which count,” Mike said.
The Smiths are concerned getting to Harvest Christian Fellowship on the outskirts of town might present a problem for some individuals looking for a meal. The Smiths are hoping some church might have a bus and be willing to adopt the soup kitchen as a ministry. This would entail parking at a chosen site downtown and taking people to the OK Kitchen at 4 p.m. and returning them at 5:30 p.m. each Thursday night.
While the former Community Soup Kitchen was open on Friday nights, the new OK Kitchen will be open on Thursday nights, as Harvest Christian Fellowship’s kitchen is not available on Fridays.
The first meal on June 2 will be tacos, a favorite of attendees, Faith said.
Lindsay said he offered the use of his church’s kitchen because “giving back to the community is the thing to do.”
“The soup kitchen not only puts food in their belly, but a smile on their face and warms their heart,” Faith said.
Anyone wishing to adopt a Thursday night to prepare a meal, make a donation of food or money or volunteer any night may contact Faith at OKKitchen2022@gmail.com or by calling (585) 319-1578. Donations may be made conveniently through Venmo or Paypal.
The Smiths and Christ Episcopal Church ended their relationship after a difference of opinion.
Jim Theodorakos, warden of the vestry along with Kevin Doherty, said the split was caused by miscommunication between the church and the Smiths.
Faith said she was summoned by the church to bring in receipts for all the transactions she had conducted as head of the soup kitchen, which she did.
Theodorakos said the church found nothing awry with the books.
Faith said she was asked for her keys shortly before Christmas.
In January, Faith reached out to Harvest Christian and shortly after, Pastor Lindsay opened up the new kitchen and dining room for use as a soup kitchen.
“We regularly had five groups who came in every month to cook and serve food,” Faith said. “This time we want the entire county to be involved, whether it’s Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, churches or friends having a ‘girls’ night out.”
The Smiths are looking for individuals and groups to volunteer to help on a regular basis or whenever they can.
Faith said they were crushed when the soup kitchen at Christ Episcopal Church closed – with no notice to the community.
“For some of these people, it was the only hot meal they got in a week,” she said.
Not only did they receive a hot meal at the soup kitchen, but they would be sent home with a meal.
The Community Soup Kitchen was started in 1994 by former church rector Jeff Haines and Alex Krebs. The Smiths took over in 2009.
“It’s the friendships we made that I’m crushed to lose,” Faith said.
She said the kitchen was supported heavily by the community. Food was donated by Walmart and Community Action.
“We still go and get donated food to give out,” Mike said.
Neil and Kathy Samborski from Lyndonville still drive to Rochester to pick up excess food from Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, BJs, Sam’s Club and the Inner City Mission.
“What I’ve missed these past months is seeing the people who were so appreciative,” Faith said. “If food was short one week, we might have only had grilled cheese and tomato soup, yet no one complained.”
“We loved the socialization,” Mike said.