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Victory Kitchen keeps serving area’s hungry

Melissa Topey • Dec 17, 2013 at 5:40 AM

When Lonnie and Nancy Walters were trying to open Victory Kitchen 22 years ago, people kept telling them there was not a need.

They have since served 527,000 meals to the homeless and less fortunate. On average, 150 to 175 people eat at the kitchen every day.

For some, it’s the only food they will have.

“There is always a need,” said Nancy Walters, whose husband, the Rev. Lonnie Walters, started the kitchen. People choose not to see it, she said.

I saw the need firsthand when I went “On The Job” at the Victory Kitchen.

Want to help?
Donations can be dropped off to staff members at Victory Kitchen, 1613 Hayes Ave., Sandusky

• Suggested food donations: Vegetables, meat, flour, eggs, pancake mix, instant mashed potatoes, butter.

• Suggested clothing items for winter months: Blankets, socks, winter coats, hoodies, hats, gloves, scarves and boots

• Suggested items for the Shoebox campaign include various winter clothes, toothbrushes and such. Girls love Barbies, baby dolls and hair accessories, while boys like Matchbox cars, Nerf toys and the like.

More than 50 million people — one in six — go hungry in America, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity.

For the Walters, feeding people in their community began with a soup kitchen in Bellevue.    

They operated a church on Kern Street when they began to work in the soup kitchen. They saw most of the need was from Sandusky, so they again decided to help tackle the issue of hunger.

The Victory Kitchen was launched.

I helped serve breakfast of ham, potatoes, pancakes and oatmeal.

“Good morning. Would you like some ham? What about potatoes?” I’d ask. “One or two pancakes? And what about oatmeal?” Chad Robles and volunteers were preparing ingredients for tacos and chicken fajitas at about the same time breakfast was being served. Businesses, service organizations and residents were also dropping off donations at that time.

The Victory Kitchen is a busy place. Volunteers are always needed.

One of the volunteers I worked alongside was Ken Buragzeski, owner of the Twist & Shout in Monroeville. We chopped up a lot of vegetables for a chicken soup.

Buragzeski volunteers at several organizations during the winter months, when his ice cream business is closed. He said he’s fortunate to have the life he has, and he wants to give back to the community.

“It also keeps me busy. I just can’t sit at home” he said.

Victory Kitchen doesn’t just serve food. It also has clothes, hats, gloves and other items for people. It’s getting ready for the Shoebox campaign, in which people deliver a shoe box, or boxes, filled with Christmas items for boy and girls. Boxes are needed for all children — newborns right up to age 12. The boxes of presents are given to children who visit the facility with their family from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 24.

Last year, Victory Kitchen provided gifts to 364 kids. People don’t realize how many kids go hungry every day, Robles said. Victory Kitchen is there to feed them year-round. It’s also in full swing in December, making holidays just a little brighter.

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