Zarephath Kitchen and Pantry is a community outreach program housed in Gresham, Oregon, providing food for low-income families and the homeless in Gresham and the surrounding area.
Our services are run by a volunteer staff and Board of amazing folks from the surrounding communities.
Our Kitchen is currently serving take-out lunches that usually include a hot dish and coffee. The Kitchen is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 11AM to 1PM.
Our Pantry hands out food parcels on Thursdays from 9AM-Noon during July, August, and September; 10AM-Noon the rest of the year.
Please check out our Facebook page for closures, updates, news, and more.
The Kitchen provides an average of over 80 meals a day, every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. We hand out take-out lunches from the back porch of the house. Each lunch usually includes a hot dish, fruit, dessert, and a drink. We have a coffee and tea window as well.
Our volunteers work hard throughout the week to plan and prepare for each busy lunchtime. Anyone needing a meal is served, with no criteria for admittance, no identification required and no limit on how often a person may come.
Zarephath Kitchen History
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we served hot meals indoors. Our dining room, which stretches across the front of the house, seats 32. We used to have many busy days when people had to wait in the hallway for a seat to clear. The kitchen served its first meal on Christmas Day, 1985. Only a month later it grew to three meals a week, and by June 1986 it expanded to five. Nine churches were responsible for Zarephath in the early days. They organized their volunteers and picked days to cook, serve and clean. Over the years more volunteers from the community have joined our staff.
Our Pantry is in the same building as the Kitchen, just in the basement.
For their first visit, people getting food must provide an address if they have one, and go through a short interview. The interview includes a brief discussion of what is available for that day, and preferences are noted. Food is allocated based on the number of adults and children in the family.
After the interview, the client gets a shopping bag if they don’t have one, then they move to a station/stations where they can choose among different perishable foods and miscellaneous items. Clients then move to a waiting area while a custom-packed box or two is assembled by Pantry volunteers. We pack the boxes with food items based on the preferences on the interview form, and the number of children and adults in the family.
Every family or individual also receives a pre-packed 15-20 pound bag of various canned and packaged food. Bags for our unhoused clients include mostly ready-to-eat items.
Upon request, we can usually provide a small amount of dog or cat food for folks’ furry companions.
On Thursdays, it takes ten to twelve volunteers to gather food, assemble boxes, and hand out the food. On other days of the week, pickup, delivery, inventory, and packing activities take place with varying numbers of volunteers.
Zarephath Pantry History
The Pantry started in 2001, when SnowCap Community Charities moved its food pantry from the house in downtown Gresham to Northeast 178th Avenue and Stark Street.
Prior to the pandemic, we helped our clients "shop" downstairs in the Pantry, where each family could walk through and make choices. This was very time-consuming, hectic, and crowded. We feel our current format is much more efficient for our volunteers and for our clients.