PITTSBURG -- Solomon Temple Baptist Church in Pittsburg has opened its doors to families in its community to come and have a home-cooked meal and share school tips during the back-to-school month of August.
"We know that this time of year is hard for families with paying for uniforms and all the other things ... to get their children ready for school," said Solomon outreach coordinator Taunita Trotter, which is why the church created its free meal program "Sharing Knowledge through Supper."
Trotter explained that with the help of a program grant from JEA Foundation, assistance from Costco and the donated talents of a culinary duo, the church will be able to feed up to 150 people Monday through Saturday.
"They (families) are just welcome to come in, sit down and eat," Trotter said. "They can even get seconds. And we have some kids who come and get seconds, which we are allowed to do."
Trotter explained that while the "Sharing Knowledge through Supper" program is specifically designed to feed youth up to 18 years old, parents are encouraged and welcome to join their children for a hot meal.
"We kind of call it the two-for-one plan. You know -- bring-two-children-and-the-parents-eat- too-type deal," Trotter said. "But it is mainly targeting kids, and the kids can come on their own if the parent wants to drop them off. They can drop them off and pick them up.
"We know that kids in some families only eat at school," Trotter said. "A lot of times they don't have a lot of nutritious food when they get home ... parents are struggling, and they don't get a good meal like they should."
While the "Sharing Knowledge through Supper" program has provided families with home-cooked meals since Aug. 5, Trotter said that the attendance is not what they had hoped it would be.
"Some days we have 40 to 50 people, some days it's a little lighter," she said. "I'm surprised there isn't more. It doesn't mean it's not successful, but I think maybe parents think, 'OK, why are they giving this for free?'"
"The concept is to have families come, and when they do come, we also do provide them with different knowledge literature, as well tips for getting started in school," Trotter explained. "This is provided in English as well as Spanish."
In other words she said, the "Sharing Knowledge" part of the meal just means that there are back-to-school tip handouts for the parents and fun but educationally challenging handouts for the kids that are available for them to take home. All families, or just kids by themselves, are invited to stop by the church for a home-cooked meal from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through the end of August.
"Like, for instance, today, we are having meatloaf, green beans, a salad and mashed potatoes, and it's all home- cooked; it's not processed," Trotter said of Thursday's menu last week. "It's made with the intention of being nutritious and made with a lot of love and care."
What: "Sharing Knowledge Through Supper" free meals
When: 4 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Where: Solomon Temple Baptist Church, 655 California Ave., Pittsburg.