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Community supper aims to feed hungry, homeless every night of the week
About 14 Renton churches are pulling together this summer to start a Renton Community Supper for the hungry and the homeless.
"There were a lot of churches who have been calling me about what they could be doing," said Karen Bergsvik, Renton's human services manager. "They've all come together."
The group plans to serve three meals a week out of the Salvation Army Church starting June 7. It's the first step to providing a square meal daily.
It's also an opportunity to provide medical and counseling services for the homeless.
Without a weekly place for the homeless to gather, services such as medical vans don't have places to set up, said Loran Lichty, associate pastor at New Life Church.
This would allow city residents to tap into an abundance of homeless programs only offered in Seattle.
A recent One Night Count found about 84 homeless in Renton, many of whom don't feel safe moving to Seattle.
"Most people think of the homeless as the single males," Bergsvik said. "Whereas in Renton, we have a number of homeless families."
In 2008 the Renton School District identified 247 students as homeless, she said.
"I think it's a sign of the times," said Terry Masango, Salvation Army captain. "There are lots of families that are living from paycheck to paycheck."
The Community Supper isn't just for the homeless but anyone who's hungry and helpless, Lichty said.
Most of the food will be gleaned from local grocery stores. The Salvation Army will start serving meals Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Friendly Kitchen serves a weekly meal in the Highlands on Thursday, and Harambee Church serves one on Saturday, so people will soon have a place to eat five days a week, Masango said.
Organizers hope that it becomes more than just a church effort. Community members should comfortable serving and donating.
"It's not just a Salvation Army program; it's a community program," Masango said.
Salvation Army still needs dishes, silverware and large commercial pots and pans.
The church has already installed laminate floors in a carpeted multi-purpose room, where it hopes to someday feed 100 nightly.
A part-time cook will help coordinate volunteers, who can sign up on RentonCommunitySupper.com.
So far, only churches have shown interest.
"It speaks very much to that we're taught, to take care of the orphans, the widows and the poor," Masango said. "Churches are living what they preach."
The Salvation Army Church turned down government money so it can offer spiritual counseling.
The supper won't require people to sit through sermons, worship services or even proselytizing, Lichty said. "We want to share Christ's love through feeding people and serving the community."