On June 7, nearly 19 months after breaking ground, Community Garden Kitchen officially opened its doors. Community Garden Kitchen serves freshly prepared, healthy meals with the goal to eliminate hunger in the community.
In 2014, a group of women was sitting around a kitchen table for a Bible study when they started talking about food insecurity in the community. The statistics they discovered were astounding. According to a study done in 2020 by Feeding America, there are approximately 110,000 food insecure people in Collin County, which is 11% of the population. Of those food insecure people, 28% of them are under the age of 18. From this discussion, Community Garden Kitchen was born.
Community Garden Kitchen serves freshly prepared meals for free in a restaurant-style setting. An executive chef selects a different menu each day. Walking into Community Garden Kitchen is warm and inviting. Small tables are used to help reduce guest anxiety. Guests are seated and served by a waitstaff. Meals are presented on real plates with real silverware. The meal ends with a tray of assorted desserts from which the diner can select.
“We have worked hard to create a space that is comfortable and friendly,” says founder and president Angela Poen. “We serve beautiful food in a beautiful place, allowing people to dine with dignity.”
Diners do not need to show any identification or fill out paperwork to eat at Community Garden Kitchen. Angela says there is a wide variety of diners, from individuals to families with children to senior citizens just looking to break the loneliness cycle. She says almost 75 percent of diners live in their car.
Each evening a different nonprofit will have a space in the restaurant at a designated table where representatives from that organization may discuss and distribute literature to interested parties about the services which are available. There is also access to mental health personnel if wanted.
Community Garden Kitchen is run purely on volunteers and donations. The only paid employee is the executive chef.
On the property is a quarter-acre garden, which is used to help supply some of the fresh produce used in preparing the meals. Other food used in meal preparation is donated from local grocery stores and organizations. Funds come from individual donations, corporate sponsors, grants, and events.
Dinner on Me is a new fundraising campaign, allowing individuals and groups to sponsor the evening meal for $500. Community Garden Kitchen is located at 501 Howard Street in McKinney. The kitchen is currently open Monday through Thursday from 6-8 p.m.