From left, Wanda Ashbaugh, Beth Gilchrist, Tom Gilchrist, Beth Newkirk, Edward Blohm, Robin Schiffbauer and Mary Deguelle volunteer at the kitchen on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022.
Amber Delay/Craig Press
Since its start in 2009, the St. Michael’s Community Kitchen in Craig has served hundreds of thousands of free meals to local residents with the help of donations from the community.
However, all of those meals would not be possible without the individuals working behind the counter in the church kitchen every week.
Robin Schiffbauer was one of a handful of people who originally rallied to start the meal service. The inspiration came from a phone call to St. Michael’s from the head chef at the hospital who wanted to know if anything could be done with the extra food the hospital cafeteria had at the end of each day.
Vicar Randy Dollins asked during the next church service if anyone was willing to help, and Schiffbauer was one of the five people who stepped up to help.
In Christmas 2009, the Community Kitchen served 12 holiday meals to local residents. The church agreed to host the meals in the downstairs kitchen, and they have served two meals per week ever since.
“Part of the thinking is we don’t ask people to fill out any paperwork — we feel like feeding people is important,” Schiffbauer said. “But it’s also important for socialization. People come here to eat together and it feeds the body, mind and the spirit.”
In 12 years, the meals have grown to serve 300 people in one sitting including 180 delivered meals for homebound residents. Schiffbauer knows they couldn’t do it without the help of fellow volunteers and the generosity of local grocery stores, restaurants, ranchers, meat processors, businesses and hunters.
“I think God has put me here,” Shiffbauer said. “Even when we have been really low and the cupboards are getting bare, I’ll ask God if we should be done, and within 30 minutes we’ll get a call from someone wanting to donate a steer or do a canned food drive for us. We’ll do this as long as God will have us.”