“A lot of people have a misunderstanding of what the Community Kitchen does, so what better way to let people know what is going on than to invite them to dinner?” Michael Reinke, executive director of IFC, said.
The Meet Me at the Kitchen events began about three months ago, and there is at least one more on March 4, Reinke said.
Reinke said the IFC is trying to get more people to have a sense of what happens with the kitchen.
IFC spokesperson Lucie Branham said the IFC hopes to combine the Community Kitchen and the food pantry at the pantry’s current location at 110 W. Main St. with their FoodFirst plan.
Branham said combining the kitchen and the pantry at a single location will make the best use of IFC’s resources.
Alvin and Omelia Garner, who have been volunteering as cooks at the Community Kitchen since 2004, began volunteering with their church, Faith Tabernacle, at the kitchen.
“Some deacons from our church were helping, so we went with them. Six months later they were gone and we were still here,” Alvin Garner said.
LaShell Alston, daughter of Alvin and Omelia Garner, has been volunteering at the kitchen since 2007.
“I enjoy the people,” Alston said. “And they enjoy you too. A lot of them thank you for coming (to help).”
Ivy Degraffenried, an employee of Carolina Dining Services, has been helping at the Community Kitchen since last year.
“You feel like you’re helping out,” Degraffenried said. “It’s something I can do for myself.”
Hairyung Sung, a Ph.D. student at the UNC School of Public Health, was one of the Meet Me at the Kitchen attendees.
Sung said she had volunteered at a community kitchen in Seoul, Korea before she moved to Carrboro two years ago.
She said she came to the Community Kitchen because she was curious to compare the kitchen in Korea to those in the United States.
“(This kitchen) is very well organized and the people are very kind,” Sung said.
Keith Taylor, president of the board of directors for IFC, said he enjoys the company of the community when he visits the kitchen.
“(I really enjoy) talking to the people. Some don’t want to talk, but some want to tell you their story,” Taylor said. “And it helps that Alvin and Omelia are such great cooks.”