HOPE Atlanta distributes meals to women and children

HOPE Atlanta and Georgia’s Own Credit Union joined forces Thursday to distribute hot meals to housing insecure women and children.

The event marked Hunger Action Day.

HOPE Atlanta is an organization that helps fight homelessness and has been distributing hot meals to women since the 1980′s through the Women’s Community Kitchen, a program which began at Action Ministries. The two organizations merged in 2021. The program works to serve women who may be homeless or living in low income housing, Liz Liston, the chief development officer, said.

“We provide that additional layer of support with the basic needs which allows them to number one make sure that they have a meal, a meal that has nutrients,” said Julio Carrillo, the CEO of HOPE Atlanta.

In years before COVID-19, the organization would serve about 80 women a day, five days a week. Due to the pandemic, the kitchen operating hours decreased, leaving many who relied on the service without consistent meals, Carrillo said.

Through the disruption, however, the organization still managed to pass out over 200,000 meals.

The kitchen served about 25 women Thursday.

“We hope to get back to the height of about 80 a day,” Liston said.

Melissa Howard, 46, sat down for a meal Thursday, and has been getting meals from the kitchen for several years. Howard, who has two children, lives in Section 8 housing and collects disability.

“It’s very beneficial to me,” Howard said. “Everybody here has been a blessing to me.”

The meals, which reminded some of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, was prepared and served by HOPE Atlanta staff and volunteers with Georgia’s Own Credit Union. The credit union has been a partner of the organization for about 10 years, Marin Kraushaar, the executive director of the Georgia’s Own Foundation, said.

“For the past couple of years, serving here at the women’s kitchen has been a favorite,” Kraushaar said. “It truly is an impactful experience.”

“They have really helped me and my family out, tremendously,” Howard said. “By the grace of God that I can say that.”