Helen Powell was sitting with her young grandson waiting for a bus when a stranger walked up and handed her a packaged lunch of warm fried chicken.
Powell, who lives on a small Social Security check while trying to help raise her grandson, said she had been struggling this month because an error led to her income being $400 less than usual. “I’m almost out of food at home,” she said. “It’s been really difficult, and I’ve been really stressed out.”
So the free meal, offered to her out of the blue on the bus stop, was enough to bring her to tears. “It really made me feel good, that there are still people who care,” she said.
Powell and her grandson were among about 40 people who received meals Monday afternoon from Arnetta Griffin, who has been distributing food to homeless people and people in need in the Uptown neighborhood over the last year.
Griffin started making meals herself and distributing them along the 6100 block of 22nd Avenue every day for lunch and dinner, calling her efforts God’s Kitchen of Kenosha.
In recent months she has been serving meals from the parking lot of an Uptown business. But she is now back to distributing individually wrapped meals to people along the sidewalks.
She said the business owner told her Friday that she could no longer serve from the parking lot. He said there have been complaints.
Lt. James Beller of the Kenosha Police Department said he is not aware of any complaints to the police department about Griffin’s efforts to feed people in Uptown.
Beller said there is a grant-funded extra police patrol in the neighborhood, and said officers have talked to people who have gathered to get food to make sure they clean up after themselves and to make sure they are careful about traffic on 22nd Avenue.
“It’s really about safety and making sure citizens are being orderly,” he said.
Griffin said that, while she was initially upset when she learned she could no longer serve meals in the business parking lot, she understands that the owner has a business to run.
She said she now hopes to find a more permanent location to serve meals and to hold events, like an upcoming back-to-school event featuring free haircuts for children.
But for now, she said, she’s back to handing out meals on sidewalks.
“I just came to the conclusion that I’m still going to go and serve; I’m just going to have to hand out the plates,” Griffin said.