When Karen Sines envisioned an ecumenical food kitchen in Coeur d’Alene, her hopes were high it would provide an easy and efficient way to help provide food for those in need. That was more than 20 years ago, and today many in the community can agree that Sines has successfully reached her goal.
Anna Setzer, and her husband, Charles, who visit the food kitchen every week said, “The food kitchen feeds a lot of people. Anyone who needs something to eat can be assured of getting at least one good hot meal.”
Sines first implemented her plan by talking with local churches about coming together and making a commitment to prepare and serve a warm meal for those in need. Sines, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Coeur d’Alene, said the response was very good with several denominations, including Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist and Methodist all willing to participate. Because First Presbyterian Church has a kitchen large enough to accommodate many people and is centrally located in the downtown area, it was decided that would be the best place to prepare and serve the hot meals. A weekly schedule was set up to let each church group know which Thursday they would be responsible for the meal.
Oly Oare, of Christ the King Lutheran, said each church chooses the menu they want to prepare and provides the food to be cooked. “It is always nutritious and tasty,” said Oare. “Because many different church groups are involved, a variety of meals are served from week to week.” Oare emphasizes all are welcome and smiled when saying, “The only questions asked of anybody is ‘Do you want noodles? Would you like green beans?’ ” According to Oare, 50 to 100 people are served a warm lunch each week.
Khristian Hedge, a member of Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, stops by the food kitchen every week to help out any way he can. He said sometimes it might be just by putting chairs away – but one thing he said he always does is take time to visit with those in attendance. Hedge believes the food kitchen provides for “mind, body and soul” and said, “When those things are full up it helps a person to continue with their day in a more positive way. The Ecumenical Food Kitchen does a good job in providing a welcoming place for folks to visit.”
Bob Jordan, who regularly attends the weekly meal, said he enjoys the social aspect of the gathering. Others point out the free meal helps them stretch their food stamp allotment.
Pat Schauer, a member of St. Thomas Catholic Church, has been working with the Ecumenical Food Kitchen for the past several years and said, “It’s not only Thanksgiving and Christmas when families need help with food, but all year long. The Ecumenical Food Kitchen offers unconditional support for those going through tough times.”
Schauer said she also likes the ecumenical spirit of the food kitchen as it allows the different denominations to work together in unity for the betterment of others.