History of Community Kitchens
In November 11, 1980 Community Kitchens opened its doors to serve meals to the homeless and hungry. This kitchen was opened during a time when recession gripped Birmingham which caused a spike in unemployment. Father Maurice Branscomb saw the impact of this recession on the southside / downtown area and those who lived here and responded by starting Community Kitchens at St. Andrew’s Parish. The first simple meal of soup was served to only 2 people. By the end of the year, the kitchen was open 5 days a week. These were the humble beginnings of the program that exists today. The mission was simple, to provide a warm and nutritious meal to anyone who is hungry regardless of situation or condition.
In 1991 Community Kitchens established a community-based Board of Directors and received its 501(C)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS. This allowed donors to make tax-deductible contributions and for the organization to reach out across the community for support. Volunteers and financial support come from a wide array of faith based organizations, schools and universities, corporations, businesses and individuals. Community Kitchens is actively involved in local coalition groups such as the Metro Birmingham Services for the Homeless. the Alabama Rescue Services and the Nonprofit Resource Center of Alabama. These alliances enable us to respond appropriately to changing needs in the community. Today we serve lunch meals 365 days per year from St. Andrews on the Southside and Grace Episcopal Church in Woodlawn. Annually this amounts to over 95,000 meals served to our guests.
The Board of Directors and the staff at Community Kitchens still follow the precedent set forth by Father Branscomb making sure that the doors to Community Kitchens are open to all. No one is required to attend a religious service, rich or poor are equally welcome-they only need to be hungry. Most of all we call those who dine with us “guests” and we treat them as such.