A Monthly Meal at The Central Iowa Shelter Services

A great way to join the Grace community to help feed the homeless.
Free Clinic Reception Desk

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” – Matthew 25:40.

On the first day of every month, members and friends of Grace United Methodist Church provide a dinner for residents of the Central Iowa Shelter and Services. An evening meal is prepared for approximately 250 residents of the shelter.

About the Shelter

Central Iowa Shelter and Services provides free shelter and meals to homeless adults, assisting them to self-sufficiency. Individuals are welcome regardless of physical or emotional conditions.

Located at 1420 Mulberry St. in Des Moines, the shelter provides residents and guests with breakfast and an evening meal. They also provide access to shower and laundry facilities, a weekly medical clinic, and group counseling. An on-site food pantry and clothes closet are available. In addition, life skills instruction, referral to other benefits and services within the community, and individual case management are offered.

How It Works

This is an easy and meaningful opportunity to help people in our community. All you have to do is come to the shelter to help the team prepare or to serve the food. The dinner’s ingredients are purchased and delivered to the shelter by our coordinator. Usually the dinner consists of meat, mashed potatoes, hot vegetable, canned fruit and cookies. The shelter provides donated bread, milk and coffee.

Here’s the general timeline for the volunteers.  Please check to make sure nothing has changed regarding number of people and time to arrive when considering this volunteer opportunity.

4:00 p.m.: Four volunteers arrive at the shelter kitchen to prepare the food. No special cooking skills are required, and instruction for preparing the food is given by the coordinator. It’s generally as simple as seasoning and cooking the meat, preparing instant mashed potatoes, and opening large cans of vegetables and fruit to get ready for the serving table. Additionally, bread is cut and buttered and cookies are placed on serving trays.

5:00-5:30: Food preparation is usually complete and food preparation volunteers may leave.

6:00: Nine serving volunteers arrive. Six are needed on the serving line. Two are needed to serve drinks. One is a floater to make sure all food items are refilled as needed. All food will be in the warming table, so no heavy or hot pans will need to be lifted. Food is put on eating trays and set on the serving counter for the residents to pick up.

Approximately 6:15:

  • Serving volunteers begin preparing trays for the staff. Shelter staff will provide the number of trays to prepare and if needed, they will serve them to the appropriate people.
  • Someone from our group leads grace.
  • The serving line is opened to the residents. After all residents are served, second and third helpings are offered until the food is gone.

7:15: Serving is usually finished at this time. No clean-up is required of volunteers, as the shelter staff take care of it.

Central Iowa Shelter and Services building, is located at 1420 Mulberry, Des Moines. All volunteers should arrive at the designated time to complete their shift. Be sure to wear comfortable, washable clothes and shoes for standing. The shelter is requires people in the kitchen to cover their hair.  If you prefer, bring a cap and then you won’t have to wear a hairnet, which the shelter provides.  But either is ok.  Also, there are aprons at the shelter, but if you’d like to bring your own, that is never a bad idea and it helps to keep your clothes from getting stained.

How to Get Involved

This is an easy, meaningful way to help people in the community, while connecting with members and friends of Grace United Methodist Church.

  • Groups: Often groups within our church, such as Youth, Confirmation Class, Men’s Breakfast, and various Sunday school classes have willingly accepted the call to cook or serve together during a particular month. If your group at Grace would like to volunteer together, let us know.
  • Individuals: Even if you’re not a part of a group, we’d love to put you on our list of volunteers—we sometimes need extra hands.

Either way, please contact the coordinator, Lisa Blair, at Gracesheltermeal@gmail.com

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