Ministry builds cafeteria to improve food program

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Joan Clemons, left, and Diane Tyra prepare attachments for electrical work in Through the Grace of God Ministries' new cafeteria building.

Joan Clemons, left, and Diane Tyra, members of Alabama Campers on Mission, prepare attachments for electrical work in Through the Grace of God Ministries’ new cafeteria building.

A new building on the campus of Through the Grace of God Ministries in Clanton will soon allow the organization to accommodate more people in need of hot meals each week.

With the help of a group called Alabama Campers on Mission, the ministry is about a month away from finishing a cafeteria building adjacent to the main building, which is located in a refurbished sewing factory warehouse on Eighth Street.

Ministry director Ralph Bingham said he met the Alabama Campers on Mission at Raleigh’s Place last summer while they were helping construct cabins for children registered in the children’s home’s annual summer camp program.

Alabama Campers on Mission are volunteers who travel to cities and towns in the state for indefinite periods of time as Christian missionaries providing support for groups like Through the Grace of God Ministries and Raleigh’s Place, typically through construction projects.

Bingham asked the Campers to help with the ministry’s cafeteria project, and about 12 members have worked consistently since November 2012 to ensure its completion this spring.

“We would be at a standstill right now if it wasn’t for (the Campers),” Bingham said. “It has just been a blessing that the Lord has provided this.”

The cafeteria measures 35-by-75 feet and will contain a commercial-sized kitchen with two large stoves, a convection oven, refrigerator and more appliances essential for cooking about 400 meals a week for as many as 70 people of the community at a time.

All meals, dine-in and emergency food boxes, are prepared in-house as opposed to being pre-packaged and shipped from somewhere else.

“This will be a lot better than what he has now,” Campers President Ray Van Slyke said.

Bingham said the ministry’s current kitchen, which contains one household stove and a microwave, is not conducive to preparing meals quickly for so many people.

The middle of the building will be the seating area for diners, and public restrooms will be installed.

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.

Through the Grace of God Ministries is funded by private donations and fueled by volunteers.

“Everything we do here is volunteer work,” Bingham said. “A lot of our people who come here for the ministry have done odd jobs.”

Joan Clemons and Diane Tyra, members of Alabama Campers on Mission, have helped with the ministry’s cafeteria construction by preparing electrical equipment for installation and sweeping the floors inside the building.

“Little job or big job—it all goes to the same cause,” Tyra said. “When you’ve got love in your heart, that’s what it’s all about.”

Bingham said the ministry is always looking for more volunteers and more people to bring to Christ.

The ministry also holds clothing drives and gospel singings, as well as Bible studies every Wednesday at 2 p.m. and a weeknight worship service every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

To volunteer at the ministry or for more information, call 205-755-8199.