The Salvation Army is cooking in style after a prayer is answered in Owensboro, Kentucky

By: David Ibata

It’s been a challenging year in the kitchen of the Owensboro, Kentucky, Corps. One of two freezers broke down six months ago; then, the other freezer died three months ago.

“We’ve been borrowing space where we could find it,” said Captain Aaron Abram, who with his wife, Captain Rebekah, is the corps officer in Owensboro.

But there’s been an answered prayer: IMPACT 100 Owensboro, a local charitable giving organization, recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the Owensboro Corps. Now, the corps not only can replace the freezers, but give its entire 1986-vintage kitchen a makeover with modern, higher-capacity commercial equipment to better handle expanded feeding programs.

“We’re really excited,” Captain Aaron said. “The corps has been trying to get this grant for about five years; my wife and I have applied for the last two.”

This time, the corps attached a contractor’s specs on how the money would be spent on renovations, equipment and appliances. “We had a lot more numbers, and we also put together a recipe book for one of the programs we wanted to do,” Captain Aaron said.

The Salvation Army was one of four grant recipients awarded $254,000 total at Impact 100’s annual meeting Oct. 17; other beneficiaries were two homeless shelters and a regional blood center.

“We’re going to do more meals for the community,” Captain Aaron said. “We’ll expand the kitchen, put in all new appliances and replace all the single-use items like paper plates with plastic dishware and silverware so we’ll have less of an impact on the environment.”

Everything will be new, commercial grade and stainless steel: A refrigerator and freezer, six-burner stove with a griddle and double oven, dishwasher, three-compartment sink, food prep table and cabinets. A tile floor will be replaced, and a wall will be removed to enlarge the kitchen.

The corps plans to expand its CANteen ministry, a youth food outreach to needy families, homeless residents and the immigrant community that served 5,300 people in the past year.

The corps offers a “Cooking With Kids” class for 60 youngsters in the Monday evening children’s program and 75 children in summer day camp.

Also, “Going Further With Food” partners family food box recipients – 25 clients a month, or 250 people a year over the 10 months of the program – with chef/nutritionists from the community to teach them how to use the items of the box as the basis for healthy meals.

“Each box typically has beans, rice, canned goods, soups and some fresh fruits and vegetables,” Captain Aaron said. “If they add $25 in proteins like chicken and beef, they can get a full four or five meals out of one box.”