Ministry’s new cafeteria to open in SeptemberBy Emily Beckett Published 4:10pm Thursday, August 29, 2013
A new cafeteria building at Through the Grace of God Ministries in Clanton is on the cusp of opening.
Adjacent to the organization’s main building, the new cafeteria will allow Through the Grace of God Ministries to serve more people coming in for hot meals each week.
Ministry Director Ralph Bingham said the 2,400-square-foot building should be open in early September.
With seating for about 100 people, the building also features a commercial-sized kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a full gas range and ample refrigerator and freezer space.
Bingham said the kitchen has 12 gas burners, three ovens, one griddle, a double convection oven, outlets for three additional hot plates, two microwaves, four freezers, a large refrigerator and an icemaker, which he has never had.
The building also has heating and air conditioning, another novelty the main building doesn’t have.
“Little things really mean a lot here,” Bingham said. “We can be more efficient. Hopefully, we can reach out to more people in the community.”
The organization serves roughly 400 meals a week to as many as 70 people at a time.
Its main building houses a fellowship hall, dining area and a small kitchen with one household stove and a microwave that sometimes leave volunteers scrambling to prepare enough food in time for the meals.
Public restrooms with showers and a laundry machine are extra features in the new building that people in need of such facilities could use when they come for meals.
A one-door entrance and exit will help Bingham and his volunteers monitor the building and keep track of how many people come in and out for meals each week.
Bingham said once the new building is finished, he might use the old cafeteria for storage.
“We’ve been blessed with a lot of people that have donated their time and efforts,” Bingham said. “Local merchants donated materials. It’s just been a community effort.”
Bingham said the building has been appraised at about $250,000.
Bingham said Temple Assembly of God Pastor Royce Ellison with Southern Oak Construction did all concrete work for the building.
“Giles Heating and Cooling and Tim Jones Heating and Cooling helped us, too,” he added.
In February, a group called Alabama Campers on Mission assisted Bingham with construction and electrical work.
Alabama Campers on Mission are Christian missionary volunteers who travel throughout the state to provide support (usually through construction projects) for groups and organizations like Through the Grace of God Ministries.
Bingham met the volunteers in 2012 when they were helping build campers’ cabins at Raleigh’s Place children’s home near Lake Mitchell.
A dozen volunteers helped Bingham with the cafeteria from November through February.
Bingham said passing a final building inspection by the state fire marshal and the city of Clanton will be the last step before the new cafeteria opens.
Located in a refurbished sewing factory warehouse on Eighth Street in Clanton, Through the Grace of God Ministries operates on private donations and with volunteer workers, and Bingham said fall is normally when the ministry receives most of its monetary and food donations.
“We’re looking for some new friends,” Bingham said. “We need volunteers and donations.”
All meals, dine-in and emergency food boxes, are prepared in-house as opposed to being pre-packaged and shipped from somewhere else.
Meals are free and are served Monday–Friday from 11 a.m. to noon, every Thursday and Friday from 5–6 p.m., one or two Saturdays every month from 5–6 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m. before the ministry’s church service at 9 a.m.
The ministry also holds clothing drives and gospel singings, along with Bible studies every Wednesday at 2 p.m. and a weeknight worship service every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
For more information or to volunteer, call (205) 755-8199.