The tables fill quickly in the Church of Our Saviour parish hall as stomachs rumble in anticipation of a pungent, spiced pumpkin bisque simmering on the stove. It’s a regular Thursday lunch at All Are Welcome Community Kitchen and Bakery, which operates two days a week in the donated space in the Middleborough Episcopal church, and the day’s menu — an old-fashioned meatloaf sandwich, plus other homemade entrees and the soup — has drawn a range of hungry fans.
Evangeline Decker, 18, and her sister Prudence, 4, enjoy a meal at All Are Welcome Community Kitchen and Bakery. Next
What makes this a remarkable scene is that those who break bread here can slide whatever they feel the meal is worth into the sealed donation box at the door. And if they can’t afford to pay this time, they can pay or volunteer at a future meal, or just take the blessing in stride.
The logo of All Are Welcome Community Kitchen and Bakery is embroidered on the organization's aprons. Next
On Thursday, this unusual twice-weekly restaurant in the open meeting space at 60 Union St., which also hosts the occasional church supper at other times, will hold a family-style Thanksgiving dinner at 1 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $15, but the usual pay-as-you-can policy applies. No matter their circumstances, patrons have been flocking to the place. On this day, they include a businessman who owns the furniture store around the corner, a minister at one of several local churches, community volunteers, a family that has come in off the street, and several people who are a bit down on their luck.
Dale Horton, a volunteer from Lakeville, helps out in the kitchen. Next
“Hunger relief is our main goal,’’ said Karen Cook, of Middleborough,cq the executive manager of the kitchen and its founder and chef. “Just because you are hungry doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be treated decently.” Everything is equalized in the guest check, which contains no prices nor totals due. Cook said that’s aimed at creating community, one meal at a time. She describes herself as a church lady who always wanted a mission, and she said she found one with All Are Welcome. “Once the economy tanked, and I saw the increased need at my local food pantry, I got together with a friend and asked, ‘What can we do?’ ” she said.
All Are Welcome Community Kitchen and Bakery Founder Karen Cook. Next
Cook said at first she considered a food truck, but decided weather would be a problem to her mission. Then Church of Our Saviour donated the space, an offer hard to refuse. Road races and fund-raisers have provided the start-up cash. She said her philosophy is to offer a dignified and pleasant dining experience in an uplifting environment, without judgment, whether or not the diners can pay. By encouraging those able to support themselves to assist in the support of others, All Are Welcome seeks to reduce what she calls “food insecurity.”
Mike McMahon, 18, a volunteer at All Are Welcome Community Kitchen and Bakery puts in a order. Next
The kitchen, which opened in March, is entirely volunteer-driven and has no operating budget plan, although there are some prospective numbers, Cook said. Donations from one meal fund the next, along with proceeds from various fund-raisers. “We have never failed to meet the ‘this week pays for next week’ goal,’’ Cook said. “There is no paid staff here, not even me. My goal is just to put a decent, healthy meal on the table.” Back to the beginning
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