Prior to the Christmas holidays, Napanee’s Morningstar Mission had raised just under half the money needed to fund a major kitchen renovation.
A vital part of their organization, the kitchen in their 58 Water Street W building was in need of upgrades in order to be brought up to municipal code. From that kitchen, volunteers would prepare upwards of 250 free meals per week for those in need-though those numbers have skyrocketed during COVID-19 and the Mission now prepares about 1,300 per week.
Fundraising for the $100,000 kitchen renovation began in early 2020, starting with the annual Coldest Night of the Year campaign, which generated $30,500 for the cause. Later in the year the Community Foundation for L&A ($5,000), Napanee’s Canadian Tire ($8,000) and L&A Mutual Insurance ($7,000) also donated to the cause.
“Current project specifications include bringing the kitchen up to current fire codes and improving efficiencies in order to maintain and grow capacity,” said Steve Martin, chair of Morningstar Mission. “The new kitchen will provide for increased storage, shelving, pantry, freezer and refrigeration space. Four walls will be taken out so the space will be reconfigured and enlarged to improve the user experience of clients and volunteers. We will more than double the square footage, from 300 square feet to 690 square feet.”
When COVID-19 protocols were put in place last winter, the Mission’s food preparation operation shifted to the Napanee Lion’s Club. In August the demolition of the outdated Mission kitchen got underway.
The old kitchen now removed, installation of the new kitchen is expected to get underway in the coming weeks. Originally planned to be complete by the end of March, the exact timeline has become murky due to the pandemic. Martin says it will likely be delayed, but hopes to be done by the end of May at the latest.
While the new kitchen will help them keep up with the growing demand for their services, the partnership with the Lion’s Hall may continue as they could very well require two locations to keep up with the need in the community.
“The goal for us is really to be able to sustain this program,” said Martin of the new kitchen. “It would just be so much more easier to manage because right now we’re moving products back and forth between the two locations. That in itself is time consuming. It’s taxing on our volunteers, people’s vehicles and people’s backs moving things three to four times. Just in terms of efficiency, it would help us tremendously.”
With so many other services shutdown during the pandemic, Morningstar Mission has become a community kitchen for Lennox and Addington County.
Now halfway to their goal of raising the funds needed to pay for the kitchen, the Mission is reaching out to the community to assist either financially or for volunteer trade workers to help them cross the finish line.
“We are a grassroots organization,” said Martin. “We work with trades people who understand our business and our position in the community and that we must maximize money for mission. They recognize our volunteers and the sweat equity they bring.”
To contact the Mission, visit www.morningstarmission.ca/.