For the first time since moving to its present location at 300 Miami St. over two decades ago, Caring Kitchen in Urbana will undergo a major renovation after receiving a $57,500 grant through the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Emergency Solutions Target of Opportunity Program.
“This grant will help us get the facility updated, which will make things better for those who volunteer here and will help us better serve our clients,” Caring Kitchen Executive Director Marilyn Cohn said. “It’s been since 1990 since any major work has been done here, so we definitely need the remodeling.”
As part of the grant requirements, Caring Kitchen must provide a 50 percent local match of $28,750. To cover the cost, Cohn said, the nonprofit organization is using $20,000 it received over a decade ago through a court settlement, as well as local donations from the Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties ($5,000), the city of Urbana ($2,500) and the Champaign County Commission ($2,500).
The project, awarded to Detrick Enterprises Inc. of West Mansfield, is set to begin the first of the year with the majority of the renovations taking place in the kitchen and bathrooms.
“The kitchen cabinets are falling off, so we are going to get new cabinets and new flooring in the kitchen, which will make the cook happy,” Cohn said, adding additional cabinets will be installed. “We will also be replacing the ceiling, but we will be keeping our sinks and stove.”
While the kitchen is being renovated, Cohn said, Caring Kitchen will continue serving meals to those in need thanks to support from a group experienced in serving a lot of meals on a daily basis.
“Urbana City Schools is going to help us with cooking when the kitchen is down, so we will be using their kitchen to cook,” she said. “No matter what, we will still be serving our regular meals. The community is still our top priority.”
Besides the kitchen, the other primary areas of focus during the renovations will be the bathroom areas and the installation of a walk-in freezer.
“The men’s and women’s bathrooms will both be redone, and they both really need it,” Cohn said. “The bathrooms will be complete renovations with new toilets, new shower stalls, new sinks and new flooring. The only thing we are keeping are the partitions, which we will be repainting.”
The ceilings in both bathrooms will be replaced.
In the back portion of the building, seven upright freezers will be replaced with an L-shaped walk-in freezer.
“Being able to get a walk-in freezer in the back is really exciting for us,” Cohn said. “It will have shelves in it, which will allow us to rotate our food, and we will be able to have all our food in one spot. I hope it will also help save on our electric a bit.”
As for the seven upright freezers, Cohn said, the plan is to keep a few of them to use as holding areas for refrigerated items donated during the weekend. As for the others, the plan is to pay it forward.
“We are not going to throw any of the freezers away,” she said. “We will find a new home for them. We will share with other agencies that might be in need, because they still work.”
Additional renovations to the facility include new flooring in the dining room and dorms, and the wooden door located inside the foyer will be replaced.
Cohn reiterated the renovation work, which will take place in phases and is scheduled to be completed by April 1, 2016, will not jeopardize services the Caring Kitchen provides on a daily basis.
“We love serving the people of this community, and none of our services are going to stop,” she said. “Through the renovations, we will still do tutoring, will we still provide food boxes, we will still serve meals, and we will still serve clients here.
“We are just excited that the renovation work is going to get done, and it will help us better serve the community through a nice facility,” Cohn added.