“We’ll find some folks at church, and the kitchen will be serving lunch Monday and Tuesday,” promised the Rev. Bill Bigger, associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Rome, which donates regularly to the facility. “I feel sure we’re not going to miss a day.”
Kitchen volunteer Melanie Baker was worried early Saturday that the kitchen would have to be closed temporarily until food was replenished and the units fixed — but local churches quickly stepped up to the plate. Organizers said Wednesday has already been taken care of too.
The kitchen at 4 Calhoun Ave., site of the old Troy’s Barbecue location, offers lunch each weekday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., providing meals to those who may not have another place to go.
The nearly three-year-old project is a joint effort of First Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Oak Hill Church of Christ, St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Trinity United Methodist Church.
First UMC Senior Pastor Jane Brooks said Monday begins her congregation’s scheduled turn to provide support.
“I’m sure our folks will be there with food,” she said Saturday. “We’ll work it out tomorrow at church.”
Capt. Tim Farrell of the Salvation Army said Saturday he’s also willing to help if he gets the call.
“We feed people every night at suppertime, and they do lunch, but we can make an adjustment if they need us,” he said.
According to a Rome police report released Saturday, equipment at the Community Kitchen was stripped of copper wiring Friday afternoon, possibly while others were inside finishing up lunch between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.
Volunteers working inside noticed a problem after no air was blowing through the system and called police once the damage was found.
Baker said two air conditioners in the walk-in cooler as well as the compressor were damaged by the theft. She’s hoping parts for the repair will arrive soon.
The kitchen lost everything for Monday’s meal, plus its supply of eggs, milk and other perishable staples. Baker said at least $1,000 worth of food was spoiled. And that’s on top of the damage, which police estimated at $7,500. “It’s going to cost a great deal of money to get things fixed,” Baker said.
Charles De Young of Etowah Iron Works heard about the situation Saturday and offered to build and install a protective cage around the new air conditioning units if someone would chip in for the metal. “I don’t want to see that happen to them again,” he said. “They do good work for a lot of people.”
The partner churches support the efforts by rotating funding during the month. First United Methodist covers the first week, First Presbyterian the second and Oak Hill the third. St. Mary’s covers the first Monday of the fourth week and First Baptist covers the following Tuesday through Friday. Trinity handles months when there is a fifth week.