The La Pine Community Kitchen’s Road to Success

Beginning their non-profit in an actual chicken coop, complete with dirt floors and repurposed refrigerators, La Pine Community Kitchen has made major improvements.

La Pine Community kitchen is a non-profit organization whose mission is to supply the La Pine community with necessities like clothing and food, all free of charge. 

Since 2003, they have implemented a variety of services including, The Kitchen, The Closet, and The Produce Stand, all offering varying services to the community.

Starting in the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Hall located in La Pine, they served a total of 11,929 meals their first year. In recent years, they have replaced equipment that they deemed, “…no longer functioned to optimally meet the needs of our customers.” Brand new ovens and freezers now line the walls of the kitchen that make dishing out meals a breeze for the staff. Noting this, Community Kitchen is making huge steps to improve their non-profit in an overall effort to support the La Pine community.

Sharri Dempsey, the general manager at La Pine Community Kitchen says, “We give out about 1,200 hot meals a month.” Compared to how many they have served in past years, this is a significant increase and according to Dempsey, “Since the food stamps had been cut…and groceries have become more expensive…we have had people on fixed incomes that can’t pay that much. We have had a 25% increase in people that use the kitchen, and that’s a lot of people.”

With this influx of customers, largely due to the pandemic, there have also been some challenges that the Community Kitchen has had to face. According to Dempsey, people have gotten “out of the habit” of using Community Kitchen’s secondary services like The Closet, which provides people with free clothing. She believes that the reason for this is the COVID-19 pandemic and its result being the temporary closure of some of their services to the public. As of now, the Community Kitchen is making efforts to revive these services. Dempsey states that she hopes people will start coming back.

Through the power of grants and donations from surrounding businesses, La Pine Community Kitchen has had the opportunity to thrive and do what they do best. Through unfortunate difficulties which led to loss of customer interest, they have always been strong-spirited and willing to make attempts to bounce back.

From humble beginnings inside of a chicken coop, to a full-scale building fitted with multiple freezers, ovens, stoves, storage compartments, and dining tables, it’s easy to say that the Community Kitchen has done a lot to get where they are today and has done even more for the community along the way.