Tuesdays and Thursdays are the highlight of the week for Melva Robinson. Every Tuesday and Thursday for the past three years she has fulfilled her dream of providing hundreds of meals to children in need at six elementary schools in the heart of Belize City, thanks to the financial support of Seventh-day Adventist church members in the area.
Robinson has lost count, but she estimates that she has prepared more than 15,000 meals for the young pupils who have visited her “Feed My Sheep Kitchen” spot for lunch during the school year. The schools work with the soup kitchen to identify children eligible for the twice-weekly meals.
Children usually arrive for lunch in shifts for a meal of rice, beans, and a vegetable protein before returning to afternoon classes, Robinson explained. The soup kitchen, located in a rented kitchen, also delivers meals to schools that are farther away so the children won't have to walk a long way during their lunchtime.
“I love working at the kitchen because it was always a life-long dream of mine to help children in need,” Robinson said.
City leaders have praised the work of Robinson and the Seventh-day Adventist Church for running a soup kitchen supported by the denomination and one of only four in the country.
At 67, with two grandchildren, Robinson saw the project as important, even though it is a challenge to keep the soup kitchen going. It has become the most satisfying part of her service to see that the children are fed meals that they enjoy, she said.
Fellow church members have jumped in to help prepare meals, serve and deliver them, and keep the kitchen running.
The majority of the funding comes from the local churches in the Belize City area, along with a few donations from the private sector. The average expenses each month run to about $600, Robinson said.
Church member and volunteer George Joseph donates funds and time to the Feed My Sheep Kitchen every month. "I love the Lord, and I love the children that come to the kitchen," Joseph said. "God expects us to do His work in finishing the gospel and helping those in need."
Helping the most vulnerable is the core mission of the Feed My Sheep Kitchen, Robinson said, and one initiative church members have vowed to continue to fund.
Ellen Borland contributed to this report.