Leaders from the Downtown Council (DTC), Episcopal Community Services (ECS), and reStart, recently came together to celebrate the opening of the new Kansas City Community Kitchen.  Over 150 people attended this event which was catered by the new kitchen.

The Community Kitchen, developed in partnership with the DTC and ECS, opened in the Downtown Community Services Center (DCSC) at 8th & Paseo. The 4,000-square-foot dining facility, capable of serving 1,000 people for lunch, shares the two-level building with reStart, a social service agency for the homeless. The DSCS is located within a short walk to other major facilities for the homeless on the east side of Downtown.

“Responding to hunger and homelessness in Downtown Kansas City has been a challenge,” said Sean O’Byrne, Downtown Council’s Vice President of Business Development. “We are working to launch a new ‘best practices’ model of human services in our community.”

That “best practices” model has not only inspired the human services community in Kansas City, but also has drawn international attention. The DTC recently learned that the DCSC and Community Kitchen will Merit Awards from the International Downtown Association at their annual conference in October.

The Downtown Council raised more than $1 million in private funds to acquire the building in 2008, renovate the upper floor for reStart in 2009 and build the Community Kitchen on the lower level this year. The kitchen is operated by ECS, as it continues its tradition of managing the Community Kitchen in Kansas City.

“At this new site, ECS continues the Community Kitchen’s 30-year tradition of serving a hot, nutritious meal for its hungry neighbors, but with even more emphasis on dignity and compassion for our guests,” said Jay Lehnertz, president of ECS.

The location of the new kitchen is one of its best features, O’Byrne said. The new Community Kitchen is just a short walk from the city’s major homeless shelters – a huge improvement compared to the far longer walk required in the rain, snow, and extreme temperatures.

The new kitchen will retire the long-time Community Kitchen in the basement of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral at 13th and Broadway, which has served meals for more than 25 years. That kitchen will now become the Central Kitchen for Episcopal Community Services and permit an expansion of the Culinary Cornerstones Career Training program.

The Community Kitchen uses volunteers to help serve the lunches.  Volunteers are needed between 11:30 – 2:00 Monday through Friday. If you or your company are looking for a rewarding experience, please contact Peggy Salts, Volunteer Coordinator for ECS, at (913) 484 5216 or psalts@episcopalcommunity.org.