With the economic situation worsening and few government social programs in operation, island individuals are stepping up to the plate to help the most vulnerable: the bedridden elderly, the addicts, the poor, the children.
One organization making a difference is Home Kitchen at the Honduras Outreach Ministries in Coxen Hole. The kitchen offers free meals to the needy and is also a place where they can meet and spend time with others in similar situations. Over the last few months the kitchen has become a place not only for a warm meal and a kind word; it’s also a place to give back dignity to the people.
Home Kitchen is the idea of Marco Galindo, an island businessman and patron of the Outreach Ministries Evangelical Church in Coxen Hole. “It’s been on my heart for years, but it’s not been an easy thing to maintain,” said Galindo. “It was important to build the place well.” The kitchen is in a concrete building with solid, industrial stainless steel equipment.
The original idea of the kitchen was to focus on the elderly, but Galindo soon realized that the need was much greater. The list of 20 people that needed free meals quickly grew and now includes 68 names, not including children and people on a waiting list. Thirteen people, bedridden and on wheelchairs, receive the food in their homes.
The kitchen opened on April 30 and has since drawn a small but committed group of supporters. Marco Galindo Jr. and his wife Tiffany Galindo purchase the kitchen’s monthly supply of rice and beans. Solgas gives the kitchen Lps. 100 in a monthly gas donation. Several other individuals are regular supporters of the initiative: Linette and Elmer Flores of Anacaribe, Mark Heffern and Ongely McNab. Marco Galindo says that while it takes around $2000 a month to keep the kitchen going, he hopes that in two years the kitchen will become self sustainable.
In the last few months the soup kitchen has been offering meals to an increasing number of children. In September there were 20 island children, some as young as three, who came to the kitchen for their free food. “They come in and say: ‘I’m hungry and I would like a bowl of soup.’ We never say no to anybody,” said Gina Scott, who manages the kitchen. Approximately half of the beneficiaries are drug and alcohol addicts; others are disabled or too poor to afford a meal. The free meal helps many of them to stay out of trouble.
The kitchen is open Monday to Saturday from 8am until around 5pm, and people come through the day. The kitchen serves a different soup every day, a slice of coconut bread and a glass of water. Some people pay for their meals, others can’t afford to and many say that this is their only meal of the day. “It makes me really happy to lift up these people,” says Scott.
One of the people in need of a lift is Kent Carter, 50, a Coxen Holean house painter who says that he struggles with addiction to alcohol and hasn’t had a steady job in two years. Carter comes to the kitchen every day and says that he has his only meal of the day there. “It’s keeping me away from doing bad. When you hungry you would steal,” says Carter, who says he keeps himself afloat by doing odd jobs.
While unique, it is not the only place on Roatan where the needy can count on a free meal. Galindo says that another free kitchen in Oak Ridge Bight offers free meals on Sunday. “Pastor Jose Mesa of Cruzadas de Evangelio has been organizing it for several years,” says Galindo.