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Thankful for God's Kitchen
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Thankful for God's Kitchen

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Arnetta Griffin is thankful.

Among other things, she’s thankful for Jesus, her family and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 6700 30th Ave.

And those who know what Griffin does are thankful for her.

Since May 2017, Griffin has been offering up her “food ministry”— free meals to those in need in the Kenosha community, with a focus on those in the Uptown Brass neighborhood.

On Saturday she served her second Thanksgiving meal. And where many of her meals have been served under tents in inclement weather, this year marks the second Thanksgiving meal held in the basement of St. Luke’s.

Starting at noon, people of all ages began lining up to share the sumptuous buffet of roast turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, pie, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, lasagna and ham.

“We’re hoping to feed at least 350 people today,” Griffin said.

A good cook in her own right, Griffin said she likes to make the entire meal, but her favorite dishes are greens mixed with cabbage and turkey dressing.

The Saturday event also offered free winter coats and haircuts.

Nicole Baumeister, 18, said she heard about the event through her mother-in-law, Christina Wienke.

“I’m expecting, and things are difficult right now,” she said. “Having an extra meal really helps.”

“I used to come to this church as a child,” said Wienke, 38. “Everything helps; not only the food but the coats. It’s been a blessing all day.”

Griffin began offering home-cooked meals to those in need after the closing of First Step Services, a low-barrier homeless shelter. Since then, the effort has become a nonprofit organization called God’s Kitchen.

And first, she did everything from her home. But as her initiative gained publicity, more volunteers stepped up and she moved to a commercial kitchen.

Just before Thanksgiving last year she connected with St. Luke’s to host her holiday meals.

“We began helping Arnetta with food and supplies; it’s just a good thing to do,” said John Frese, a church councilman.

Since it began, Griffin’s “food ministry” has grown beyond her simple dream of just feeding those in need. Partnerships in the Uptown community have grown to include space donated by St. Luke’s and the ECLA Outreach Center, 6218 26th Ave.

On weekdays, she, along with a strong contingent of family and community volunteers, prepare and serve lunches at the Outreach Center; evenings she serves meals from the parking lot of the Family Dollar Store, 6100 22nd Ave.

The volunteers love helping Griffin’s cause.

Rachel Lopez of Kenosha said she first heard about Griffin through social media.

“I bought her a gift card and said I really wanted to help her,” Lopez said. Lopez volunteers on weekends and for special meal events.

“Everybody gets together; it’s the way it should be,” said church volunteer Lucy Rangel, 64.

Although recently called to the church in July, St. Luke’s pastor Russell Scoggins said he was immediately taken by Griffin’s mission.

“She does great work,” he said. “She’s a servant who mirrors the love of Christ. We need more of her in the world.”

“I can’t even put it in words; she’s so giving,” Lopez said.

“Arnetta is a miracle of God,” said lunch attendee Evelyn Olson, 59. “I just love her; she does such good work for the community.”

Griffin gives thanks right back to those who have supported her work.

“Everyone came together to make this happen because that’s what God’s Kitchen is: It’s all God’s work.”

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