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'Dining with dignity' | After seeing a problem, North Texans take action to feed their community

Angela Poen and her Bible study friends decided to build a kitchen after learning none existed.

MCKINNEY, Texas — Angela Poen was completely oblivious.

She had no idea, until it came up at a Bible study, that, every day, thousands of people in Collin County go hungry.

“We started talking about food insecurity,” Poen said.

Even worse, there was no place they could go for a meal.

“And I remember when I said, ‘well, we’ll just raise the money and build it,’” Poen said. “And I just felt this shift. All of a sudden it was like, that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

So, that’s what they did.

What started in 2014 as an idea among Bible study friends is set to open its doors in the coming weeks.

It’s called Community Garden Kitchen. It’s in McKinney, and Poen, president of the kitchen, is adamant that it is not just another soup kitchen.

To reduce the stigma that sometimes comes with a free meal, her mission is to make it feel like a restaurant.

With a full-time chef and a volunteer waitstaff, diners will order from a menu and be served everything but the check, no questions asked.

Poen calls it dining with dignity.

“We just feel like, by serving people, it will maybe make their day, which may not have been very good, just a little bit better,” she said.

A garden sponsored by Globe Life is behind the building. The fresh produce will be used for meals and will also offer guests a chance to learn how to grow their own food.

Guests will also have access to other social services and opportunities that could go a long way in eliminating hunger throughout the community.

“I definitely think we are going to reduce food insecurity,” Poen said.

When Poen’s Bible study friends learned hunger was a problem, they could’ve offered thoughts and prayers. But instead, they offered the one thing guaranteed to help: doing something about it.

“We pray about it and we study and we read, but at some point in time, you got to get out of the boat,” Poen said.

Because to walk on water, you need to have courage to take the first step.

Click here for more information on Community Garden Kitchen. 

Sean Giggy on social media: Facebook | Twitter

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