Casserole Kitchen receives GIVE Award

Casserole Kitchen co-chair Rex Buffington (left) calls the name of Josey Creek Missionary Baptist Church representative Shivelle Kemp (right) while cochair Loren Zimmerman presents her with a GIVE Award certificate. (Photo by Sarah Raines, SDN)
Staff Writer

Casserole Kitchen was given the 2017 Governor's Initiative for Volunteer Excellence Award on Thursday as Mississippi's Most Outstanding Faith Based Collaboration Initiative, and a ceremony was held before Thursday's weekly dinner to acknowledge each church that has a role.

Casserole Kitchen began in 2009 and serves freshly prepared, warm meals to families in need three times a week. There are 15 churches involved in the collaboration. Around 170 volunteers who work together to put a meal on the table every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church and every Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection.

Around 40 people were in attendance as co-chairs of Casserole Kitchen Loren Zimmerman and Rex Buffington presented the certificates to representatives from different churches. After the ceremony, they served catfish to attendees.

"The first time we served a meal, nobody came," Zimmerman said. "Then it began to grow and now, we never know how many we're going to have. We may have 10 one night, 40 the other. We average about 25 to 30."

Nominations are accepted for the GIVE Awards each year for volunteer groups that make an impact on communities they serve. The previous director of Volunteer Starkville Jamey Bachman nominated the Casserole Kitchen for the award earlier this year.

"It's great to get that award, and to know people are recognizing that it is pretty amazing when you get 15 churches to come together and work on a project like this," Buffington said.

Buffington said there are both familiar and new faces at every Casserole Kitchen meeting, and that the ministry serves to help people in times of need. The ministry serves hot meals to as many as 120 people a week.

Zimmerman said they are looking to add two or three churches to the Casserole Kitchen's meal preparation rotation, and that if anyone i interested, they may contact him or Buffington.

"I think the collaboration between the churches is such a blessing," Buffington said. "Even with as big and strong as so many of our churches are, I don't think anybody could do this ministry alone, but when we come together, we're able to do it really well."