For a little more than eight years, Marcella Perkins and her team of volunteers have opened their doors and offered a hot meal to Marshall County five days a week, with the goal of ensuring hungry bellies and aching hearts are nurtured. In May, they expanded to a larger, modern facility and now they've expanded that ministry again--offering a delivery service for those unable to get themselves to the kitchen.
Perkins said so far, they're averaging 12 deliveries a day for those considered "homebound" who meet all the criteria which includes: living in Marshall County, meeting Medicare and Medicaid guidelines for homebound individuals, no dietary restrictions and no access to someone who can get or prepare food daily.
Perkins said "homebound" by those guidelines typically means someone able to get to medical appointments, church or hair appointments but otherwise unable to get out and do for themselves. She said while that sounds like it would be restricted to elderly people, that's not always the case and those receiving the service are chosen on a case-by-case basis.
For instance, Perkins said, they deliver to a man who's able to get around for himself but is homebound because his wife is extremely ill. Because he's her primary caregiver and can't leave, he was living on frozen, TV dinners, she said; now he's getting at least one home-cooked meal a day, five days a week. She also said if, for instance, a person who's normally able to get around themselves has something that temporarily debilitates them--like a hip surgery--and they need assistance for a few weeks, that could be arranged.
Perkins said Chyrill Miller is taking care of scheduling arrangements for the deliveries, which typically arrive at the homes around noon. Each meal is individually wrapped and sealed in a container and then transported in thermal bags with heated bricks that keep the food warm. Those receiving the meals must be home at the time of delivery.
With the additional 12 meals delivered to homes and the 30 meals delivered to the Marshall County Exceptional Center three days a week, Perkins said that's a significant increase already. Plus, she said, they're now serving approximately 2,200 people a month whereas in the previous location they were averaging about 1,500 a month.
"That's more than you can manage by just opening an extra can of beans," she said. "But God has provided for us so far and we believe He will continue to provide."
What's great, Perkins said, is that those increased numbers represent people who truly need the meal; what's challenging is that it means the kitchen has to stretch the dollars further than before.
Perkins said she wanted to make sure people know that her service hasn't affected the Meals on Wheels program operated by the McCracken County Senior Citizens Center. She said they're still delivering 45-50 meals a day and her organization is not taking that away or aiming to take that away from anyone.
One of the ways people can help outside of direct donations, Perkins said, is considering the kitchen's facility when in need of an event center for reunions, bridal/baby showers or business meetings. Crystal Jeter with The Jeter Group of Keller Williams Experience Realty is managing the property for events and may be reached for rates and availability by calling 270-909-1003.
Anyone interested in learning if they qualify for the meal delivery service may call Chyrill Miller at 270-205-2923.
For more information about Marcella's Kitchen, including how to become a volunteer, visit www.marcellaskitchen.com or visit their Facebook page. The kitchen is open Monday through Friday, serving lunch from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at 868 Guy Mathis Drive in Benton. The meals are free, no questions asked, and everyone is invited.