Flathead organization serves up free meals for 30 years


    Volunteers prepare salads for Community Kitchen-Feeding the Flathead's Thursday night dinner. (NBC Montana photo)

    Sometimes people struggle to put food on the table, which is why one Flathead community kitchen’s been working for the last 30 years to make sure no one is without a home-cooked meal.

    Volunteers tossed salads to prepare for the Community Kitchen-Feeding the Flathead free dinner, but this soup kitchen serves a meal in a unique way.

    "We have the people sit down, and we carry the food to them like a restaurant,” said Naomi Davidson. “We serve them. We try to show the love of God to them by showing them that they are special by serving them."

    It's something the organization's been doing for the last 30 years. It all started in 1989 as just the Community Kitchen, until Feeding the Flathead joined forces in 2004.

    Davidson is the retired director, and now B. Bradford Fenchak has taken over.

    "We are a unified front,” said Bradford Fenchak. “Our goal is that no one goes to bed hungry."

    Davidson said they served about 12,000 people last year, including homeless and low-income participants. They have dinners four nights a week at four different churches.

    "Sometimes we have fish and potatoes, we've had goulash,” said Bradford Fenchak. “Pretty much anything that sounds good. We've had meatloaf."

    It's not just about the food.

    "The communityship, you know, friendship, people to hang out with and talk,” said Kalispell resident Jacob Dawson. “Just have a great time. It's like having a separate family."

    It's what keeps Robert and Carol Lampe coming back. They were homeless when they first came to Kalispell, but they recently bought a house.

    "When we got here, Naomi, Richard -- everybody treated us like long lost family, and it was a really great feeling after being made homeless," said Robert Lampe.

    "If it wasn't for Feeding the Flathead, we would have probably starved," Carol Lampe told NBC Montana.

    It’s a community effort. Bradford Fenchak said they can have up to 110 volunteers a month.

    "When you have a bunch of people working together and taking their different gifts -- whether it's time, money, food -- that makes a big difference in people's lives, and I just want to thank people for that," Bradford Fenchak said.

    It’s all to make sure no one goes hungry and to have a place that feels like home in the Flathead.

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