There’s no place like home for the holidays. But for many, the Women’s Community Kitchen comes close.
Learn how the community kitchen is fighting hunger and spreading HOPE this season — and how you can help.
Janine Rahl’s official title is Manager of HOPE Atlanta’s Women’s Community Kitchen (WCK). But to the WCK’s guests, she’s “Cinderella.”
“They see me like a real Cinderella, this beautiful princess that came to help them,” she says. “I’m the Cinderella of the HOPE Atlanta kitchen, here to help them.”
The nickname stuck soon after Janine joined HOPE Atlanta in the fall of 2022, full of energy, passion, and ideas about how the kitchen could best serve women and children in need — beyond just a hot meal.
“You know when you cook at home with friends and share experiences?” she explained. “That is what I want for them. Not just a meal, but something they’ll take home with them.”
When she says she thinks of the kitchen’s clientele as family, she means it. One example? Janine’s mother occasionally joins her in the kitchen to prepare some of their family’s favorite meals, like Brazilian chicken and rice. On other days, the menu is up to the guests.
“The other day, I asked what the ladies wanted to eat, and I had one lady say, ‘pizza,’” she recalled. “I said, ‘Okay, we can have pizza.’ Sometimes they have a request, and it’s so simple, but they were so happy with just pizza.”
Located at 458 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, the WCK has served hot meals to women and children in need — many experiencing homelessness — since 1984 (it was an Action Ministries program before the organization joined HOPE Atlanta). Besides providing meals for 30–40 food-insecure neighbors each day, the WCK becomes a support system for many guests — a place to find community and share resources.
Janine hopes to build a more holistic program by offering other services, like cooking classes, job interview training, and mental health support. But small gestures of kindness also have a big impact at the WCK.
“I had one woman tell me her uncle passed away, and she was very sad, so I was able to hug her and pray with her,” Janine said. “It helps me get closer to them.”
Celebrating the holidays at the Women’s Community Kitchen
The WCK’s staff and volunteers work hard to make the holidays memorable for guests; this year is no exception. HOPE Atlanta held a holiday food distribution event on November 17, and on the 23rd, guests were treated to a special Thanksgiving meal. And there will be another holiday celebration before the year’s end.
“For Christmas, we are going to have a talent show,” Janine said. “They are going to dance and sing and show us what they can do! It’ll be very nice for all the women that come to the kitchen.”
HOPE Atlanta and the WCK rely on community support, and the need is even greater this season. Besides providing special holiday meals and events, HOPE Atlanta works to provide warmth and shelter for those experiencing homelessness during winter. The organization is currently seeing an influx of people seeking assistance to remain in their homes as housing affordability declines and inflation persists.
Ways to help the Women’s Community Kitchen fight hunger
- Donate items. The WCK needs food donations to provide holiday meal boxes, and other items like blankets and coats for those experiencing or transitioning out of homelessness. Click here to see items needed and drop-off instructions, or shop the Amazon wish list here.
- Volunteer. HOPE Atlanta’s hunger programs are largely run by volunteers, and there are many opportunities for individuals and groups to get involved! You can sign up for a shift at the Women’s Community Kitchen online or join us to pack food boxes at our volunteer center.
- Make a gift. Financial contributions are one of the easiest and most effective ways to support HOPE Atlanta’s mission to combat homelessness and hunger, and every gift makes a difference to someone. Click here to spread HOPE with your donation.