Community leader launches pop-up dinners to serve vulnerable people

Chioma Adaku saw a need in the community. She saw food insecurity in Petersburg. Through interactions with people in the neighborhood, she realized that it was not just the homeless who were hungry. It is also the elderly, the disabled and people living on social security who have also struggled.

“We take it for granted that people have everything they need, but they don’t,” she said.

Adaku knew that people could eat their meals at Hope Center during the day. There were also various other groups that distributed food, but there was no one he knew who offered meals in the evenings.

So Adaku decided to team up with Montrey Howard of Petersburg Solution and so the Petersburg Pop-Up Dinners were born.

“There are a lot of people talking about the problems but not many people doing things to solve the problem,” Adaku said. “I am a problem solver. I want to give hope to Petersburg.

The goal of these pop-up dinners is to “pop up” in areas where people will need a hot, nutritious meal. This week they visited churches and senior apartment complexes such as Carriage House and Sycamore Tower. At the moment, they provide meals every two weeks of the month. The ultimate vision is to have a soup kitchen where they can serve dinner every night, the alternative to the Hope Center. Petersburg currently has no homeless shelter for people to get emergency housing and food.

“If you’re the same person who goes to the Hope Center for food, then where do you have your dinners?” Howard said. “Normally, if you don’t have a homeless shelter, that leaves a gap not only for not having housing, but also for not having a place to eat. It must be difficult to be homeless and hungry. We’re also trying to give food to the east end because that’s where most of the homeless are.

They’ve partnered with Helping Hands and the Justin J. Davis Foundation to stop cooking and are looking to partner more with other organizations.

“I hope this will be a permanent solution to the food insecurity,” Howard said. “Hope this helps the person get through the night.”

Joyce Chu is the social justice monitoring reporter for The Progress Index. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @joyce_speaks.

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