Soup Kitchen in Plainfield, New Jersey
Valarie's Kitchen: CAPC's New Jersey Soup Kitchen Reopens
Valarie’s Kitchen, the soup-kitchen ministry of Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in Plainfield, New Jersey, reopened at noon, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, after a several month hiatus during which the church’s kitchen was totally renovated and brought up to code compliance.
Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church Soup Kitchen History
The ministry was the brainchild of the late Valarie Fisher for which it now is named. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Valarie noted the church’s kitchen was still able to function and encouraged the congregation to open the facility bringing together people in need of food with those who had food in their freezers which they were unable to cook due to the wide-spread power outages. After the immediate crisis, Valarie encouraged the church to continue to feed the hungry with a soup-kitchen offering seasonally appropriate meals every Tuesday.
The program grew through word-of-mouth until there were volunteers from the church and the community-at-large who prepared lunches for as many as 150 guests each week. When it became clear that the 80-year-old church kitchen needed to be modernized if the program were to continue, the pastor and the congregation were able to raise close to $300,000 in grants from foundations and individual gifts to finance the extensive project.
New Jersey Soup Kitchen Has Executive Chef
In the reopened central New Jersey soup kitchen, volunteers will be working under the supervision of Executive Chef Kevin Cook. Chef Cook is a seasoned chef with more than 10 years of experience in the organization, execution, and direction of culinary staffs and functions in such fine dining establishments as the Somerset Hills Hotel in Somerset, NJ, and the Lake Edge Restaurant in Watchung, NJ.
The reopened kitchen with expanded services is just one of many exciting initiatives that Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church had planned for the celebration of its 175th anniversary in 2019 building on its legacy of faith and service.
Many individuals and families in Plainfield have been hit particularly hard financially. The numbers of those who are on the streets or living in shelters are on the rise. People are left hungry but thanks to the generosity of the Keyes Foundation, other generous donors and dedicated volunteers, fewer are hungry and hope is found here once again.
On Tuesdays, a full lunch is served to begin at noon under the auspices of the Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church's Soup Kitchen (CAPC Soup Kitchen) in Plainfield, NJ. Volunteers gather at 9 a.m. to begin preparations and ensure all is ready for the lunch guests. In addition to food, the Soup Kitchen program also offers Blessing Bags and clothing when available. The CAPC Soup Kitchen is open to all and exists completely on the gifts of others. Costco donates food goods as well. All donations go directly to foodstuffs.
Ministry does not get any more real than this. Serving those who are hungry, opening the doors to the community and reaching out with compassion and in service, as one volunteer quipped, "I feel guilty having so much fun doing this, it doesn't feel like work!"