Showing Love Through a Homecooked Meal

How often have you taken a hot meal for granted? If we’re being honest, most of us are guilty of doing that at some point in our lives. For the employees at Ministry Village at Olive who interact with our local homeless population every day, a hot, home-cooked meal represents so much. Kathleen Schuster, Program Manager for Tender Hearts Caring Hands (the Ministry Village benevolence program), was so burdened by the hopelessness and despair that she saw in the eyes of the homeless clients she worked with every day. “People would come by for food bags and hygiene bags, and they were grateful for whatever we were able to provide for them, but I just felt God’s call to do something more. I wanted to be able to offer them a warm, home-cooked meal.” So, that’s exactly what she did.

At the beginning of 2019, as temperatures dipped low and the local homeless population suffered from the cold, Kathie cooked a meal in her crockpot and brought it to work. “I thought we could offer anyone who came to the office at least one hot, home-cooked meal for the week. Who wouldn’t want that?” Kathie’s thoughtful idea was met with appreciative hearts and stomachs, so she kept doing it. Now, halfway through the year, Kathie has provided dozens of meals and she’s not slowing down. “I love doing it. Even though the weather is hot now, people still appreciate having a home-cooked meal. Sometimes I make a pasta salad to go with whatever crockpot food I bring too, just to give everybody a little something more.” This week, her dish was a delicious blend of navy beans, northern beans and ham. “We serve it every day starting Monday morning, and we give it out until it’s all gone. Usually it lasts until Thursday, depending on the amount of client traffic we see during the week.” Other dishes she has made include beef stroganoff, red beans and rice, curry chicken, beef stew, chicken spaghetti, black-eyed peas and ham, and split pea soup. “Whatever is in season is fair game for a meal!” says Kathie.

Kathie provides the ingredients and the meals out of her own pocket. It is her love offering to the homeless clients that she has grown to know as friends. “Working at Ministry Village is a blessing. Being able to help people who are struggling – it is so wonderful to witness God at work. Cooking for friends and sharing a meal – that’s something everybody does! Why wouldn’t I do that too?”

Working at Ministry Village is a blessing… – it is so wonderful to witness God at work.

❤️Tender Hearts Caring Hands (THCH) is the care and kindness ministry of Ministry Village at Olive, focused on serving individuals and families in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties that have significant need. THCH offers a food pantry for families and homeless neighbors in need and financial assistance to those who qualify.

🌽Donations of food and hygiene items can be made at the Ministry Village office on Olive Road, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 2 pm, or call to make arrangements.

🙋‍♀️Volunteers are needed to help organize the THCH food pantry, pickup food donations from Publix, and handle various administrative tasks in the office. Contact Kathie Schuster at (850) 475-1118 (KSchuster@MinistryVillage.org) for more information on serving through Tender Hearts Caring Hands.

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