PLAINFIELD, NJ - Valarie’s Kitchen, the soup-kitchen ministry of Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in Plainfield reopened this past Tuesday, May 7, 2019 after a several month hiatus during which the church’s kitchen was totally renovated and brought up to code compliance.

The ministry was the brain child of the late Valarie Fisher for which it is named., In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy Valarie noted that the church’s kitchen was still able to function and encouraged the congregation to open the facility bringing together people in need of food with those who had food in their freezers which they were unable to cook due to the wide-spread power outages.   After the immediate crisis, Valarie encouraged the church to continue to feed the hungry offering with a soup-kitchen that offered seasonally appropriate meals every Tuesday.

Last Fall, TAPinto Plainfield sat down with Pastor Lynn Santulli prior to the newly renovated kitchen's grand opening and fundraiser. She described the kitchen as one of the best-kept secrets in town and said, "One of the things we had that started after Hurricane Sandy was our soup kitchen.  And it was really just this kind of organic, gosh, power is out, I've got food in the fridge and you've got food in the freezer, so why don't we all just get together, and let's cook things and we'll feed the people who come.  Well, what we discovered was that there was such a huge need to feed the hungry here in the community."

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As the soup kitchen grew, members of the church realized the kitchen from which they were serving was desperately out of date.  They put together a plan for a "minor renovation" that got a lot bigger, and Santulli said they are still reeling from the sticker shock.

The program grew through word of mouth until there were volunteers from the church and the community at large who prepared lunches for as many as 250 guests each week.  When it became clear that the 80 year old church kitchen needed to be modernized if the program were to continue, the congregation was able to raise close to $300,000 in grants from foundations and individual gifts to finance the extensive project.

Volunteers will be working under the supervision of Executive Chef, Kevin Cook.  Chef Cook is a seasoned Executive Chef with more than 10 years of experience in the organization, execution and direction of culinary staffs and functions in such fine dining establishments as the Somerset Hills Hotel in Somerset, NJ and the Lake Edge Restaurant in Watchung, NJ.

The reopening of the kitchen with expanded services is just one of many exciting initiatives that Crescent Avenue Presbyterian has planned for the celebration of its 175th anniversary in 2019 building on its legacy of faith and service.

Volunteers, either individuals or groups, are welcome.  Information can be obtained by calling the church office at 908 756 2468 or on the church’s web site Crescentonline.org 

The church is located at 716 Watchung Avenue in Plainfield.

For more information email pastor@crescentonline.org or call (908) 756-2468.

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