Pleasanton Weekly

News - December 3, 2010

Open Heart Kitchen needs your help

Holiday Fund donations help provide 450 meals a day

by Jeb Bing

Among the five nonprofits that have been selected as this year's recipients of the eighth annual Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund, Open Heart Kitchen (OHK) is the one that feeds a wide range of the needy and under-nourished, from seniors to school children throughout the Tri-Valley. OHK uses the Holiday Fund contributions, which are expected to total about $20,000 this year, to help pay the cost of serving the 15,000 meals OHK handles each month.

Founded in 1995 by an inter-faith effort, Open Heart Kitchen's mission is to provide nutritious meals free of charge or qualification to the needy people of the area. It offers the only free hot meal service of its kind to "guests" who come from all walks of life. Some are homeless, but unlike many urban "soup kitchens," Open Heart Kitchen guests are mostly the working poor. Many are low income seniors on a fixed income, single-parent families, and multi-generational families, all struggling to make ends meet. At Open Heart Kitchen they find a free healthy meal in an environment that upholds their dignity. And, it fulfills the most basic need of hunger in a dignified manner through three-meal program.

Hot meals are made from scratch by OHK volunteers and served from several locations Monday through Friday to anyone in need. Each meal consists of a protein, starch, vegetable, green salad, fruit salad, bread, milk, coffee, tea or juice and dessert. On average OHK provide 450 hot meals each serving day.

Children who receive free school lunches during the week are left without on the weekends.

To supplement school lunches over the weekends, OHK distributes a box lunch consisting of two healthy lunches to low income children and their families on Friday afternoons from four locations in the Livermore and Dublin area. On average 1,700 boxed lunches are prepared and distributed each week.

In addition, Open Heart Kitchen prepares and serves dinner for low income senior citizens 62+ years, Monday through Friday at Ridge View Commons a low income senior center in Pleasanton. Usually there are 50 who sign up for these low cost "Senior Friendly" meals, where the suggested donation is $3 for a meal worth twice the price. OHK subsidizes the cost of each meal and provides free meals to any senior unable to make a contribution.

In these difficult economic times, the number of those who rely on OHK has increased. According to OHK's statistics, there are 6,229 people living below the poverty line in Livermore, Dublin and Pleasanton. Contributions to the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund, which are matched dollar for dollar by the Tri-Valley Community Foundation, help these families to pay for basic needs, like putting food on the table. For more information, visit OHK's website at ww.openheartkitchen.org or call 580-1616.

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