Feed Cheney provides free scratch-made hot meal


feed Cheney is a nonprofit organization that provides a once a month scratch-made hot meal. The Feed Cheney program is eight years old | Photo courtesy of Todd Hays

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

Once a month, the organization Feed Cheney provides a free scratch-made hot meal, groceries and volunteer opportunities for the community.

As a food security program that focuses on building community, Feed Cheney has a restaurant-style dinner service setting with live music and grocery distribution on the last Monday of the month. There are no income qualifications or proof of residency required to attend the event. It is also a volunteer opportunity for members of the Cheney community that does not require travel to Spokane.

“Feed Cheney is a community program that believes in neighbors helping neighbors through food and friendship because everyone matters,” Natalie Tauzin, Feed Cheney’s organizer said.

The meal starts at 5:30 p.m. and people typically show up around 5 p.m. The earliest arrivers get the first number of grocery distribution. Feed Cheney serves between 75 to 85 families which is about how many ticket numbers go out.

“If someone wants to be able to get their groceries quickly and if they are pressed for time, they can show up a little earlier,” Tauzin said.

With the focus being on community effort, Feed Cheney has several local partnerships. One of their key partnerships is Women and Children’s Free Restaurant in Spokane. This organization is also a nonprofit and provides 80 percent of the meal.

“The program is 8 years old and we have been working with Women and Children for all of those eight years,” said Tauzin. “They provide a scratch-made soup and scratch-made dinner like entrees.”

Feed Cheney supplements the meal with a green salad, ranch dressing and a freshly made dessert. The beverages provided are coffee, water and tea. Second Harvest in Spokane has also partnered with Feed Cheney to provide the produce and some frozen meat and dairy products for the grocery distribution at no cost.

After the support from Second Harvest, Feed Cheney spends about $400 a month purchasing staple groceries.

“We typically will purchase enough for each family to have anywhere from three to six additional meals so that they can get through the end of the month, ”said Tauzin. “That is why Feed Cheney is almost the last Monday of every month with just a couple of exceptions being some holidays.”

Volunteers are urged to use the Feed Cheney website to sign up for different volunteer opportunities including set up, serving, clean up, fundraising, inventory, social marketing, graphic arts, playing music and taking photos.

“By going on the website we have a sense of how many people are coming and then we are able to keep everyone busy and make it worth their while to come volunteer,” Tauzin said.

Feed Cheney is its own separate organization outside of the Cheney Food Bank, Cheney Outreach and Cheney Clothing Bank. A donation to those organizations does not contribute to Feed Cheney.  It is a separate nonprofit. Feed Cheney falls under the United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church 501(c)(3), is the nonprofit organization that has been recognized by the IRS as being tax-exempt by virtue of its charitable programs. However, Feed Cheney has its own bank account and there are no commingling of funds.

“So, any donations, 100 percent goes to providing the meal for the guests and for groceries,” said Tauzin. “There is zero overhead. No money goes to administration.”

Feed Cheney is meant to extend and supplement the access to food. The organization has recognized that other food benefits like SNAP run low by the end of week two during the month. Also, other community service organizations are typically open only during business hours. That is why the event is during dinner time, to serve the people that are unable to get benefits at the time other organizations offer them.

“All of the other services for the community that are part of that community organization are held during the work week during business hours that are not necessarily hours that are people who are working, making minimum wage would ever be able to access,” said Tauzin. “It’s meant to provide additional access through hours that aren’t currently available for working families. Also for families with children.”

The next Feed Cheney event will be on Monday, April 30 at the Wren Pierson building in downtown Cheney at 5:30 p.m.