In September, Gracie’s Kitchen provided meals for 4135 people and 285 pets. The Kitchen is open four nights a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays), and between 250 and 300 people come to pick up a dinner every night. There is also a Blessing Box of food outside for the days when the Kitchen is not open.
The supplies come from Feeding Northeast Florida, Farm Share, churches, rotaries, community organizations, and food drives. Panera Bread, Chick-fil-A, and Kentucky Fried Chicken also help out by donating what’s left at the end of the day.
Maryellen Crocker, Director, pictured next to the pet supplies.
Maryellen Crocker, Director, partnered with Gracie Preache to start Gracie’s Kitchen in 2010. The School Board lends them the old school building on Koen Lane in Yulee and also pays for all the utilities…not a small undertaking, with 14 freezers running all the time!
Maryellen leads the 200 volunteers who prepare the meals and then assemble and hand out takeout boxes. Before the pandemic, many people sat down to chat with other diners over their meal in the colorful dining room, but it has been only takeout recently. However, Maryellen has plans to change that with a new outdoor dining space, which will be called Gracie’s Café.
From left: Lee Schilling, Frances Peters, and Maryellen Crocker in the old dining room.
Front Porch Beads started fundraising in 2019 and has now raised over $33,000 for local charities.
From left: Frances Peters, Lee Schilling, and Rachel Bembenek (Gracie's volunteer).