By Jenny Neyman
Going hungry isn’t something Pastor Robin Davis and the other volunteers at First Baptist Church of Kenai have experienced in their lives. They’ve perhaps known periods of spiritual hunger, gone through times where church seats were more empty than the congregation would like, or weathered stretches of church coffers dwindling to bare, but never their own cupboards.
This summer, they are getting a taste of hunger, as they struggle to prevent starvation of a meals program providing food for those in Kenai who struggle to do so for themselves.
“A few hundred dollars a night, a thousand a week. That’s not a lot of money and we can feed kids,” Davis said. “It doesn’t seem like much, but First Baptist, we’re just faith based. We just go one day at a time.”
There have been many long, challenging, yet infinitely rewarding days leading up to this program, where about 30 kids a night plus some adults are getting a healthy, filling meal in an old bar converted into a dining room in Kenai.
It started about six months ago, with the church wanting to start up service projects in Kenai.
“We really wanted to find ways to connect with the community, because we’re a little bit on the outskirts of town, so what can we do to have a positive connection to this community?” Davis said. The church is out past Forest Drive in Kenai. If headed toward Nikiski, it’s on the left where the Kenai Spur Highway bends to the right. Davis has been with the church for five years, after retiring from 20 years in the Air Force.
But what to do? Storming off on a mission without doing recon first is no recipe for success. So Davis started asking around, conducting about 20 interviews in all, with Mayor Pat Porter and city officials, area social service agencies and school officials.
“(I asked) what they did to help the community and then other needs they saw that the community needed. We were trying to find something we felt like we had the resources to be able to support,” Davis said. “There was a recurring theme that kept coming up. I think the (Kenai) Alternative High School principal said it most succinctly — there’s a need to provide nutritious food and a safe place to eat it.” Continue reading