The Muscatine Salvation Army’s (MSA’s) food program has served as a staple of the group’s mission to do the most good in the community for time out of mind. With school back in session, the MSA’s food program began serving its lunch time meals on Monday, September 9th. As the program gears up for another year of helping feed Muscatine residents, program director Sandy Kuhens looks forward to sharing more meals with those who need them and to welcoming more volunteers to continue this impactful program.
In the early 1950’s, Kuhens first started cooking meals for the MSA while still in her teens. A native of south end Muscatine who grew up right across the street from the MSA, helping the MSA with its meal program seemed like a natural fit for her. Over the next fifty or so years, Kuhens helped out at the MSA whenever she could, in between owning her own restaurants, raising several children, and moving around because of her husband’s career in the military. In 2005 after Kuhens retired, she took over as the MSA’s meal program director, a position she has held ever since.
In all of her years in food service, Kuhens learned everything she could about creating delicious, healthy home cooking, and this expertise shows in all of the meals she serves at the MSA. A truly creative cook, Kuhens knows how to take whatever ingredients the MSA’s food pantry has at any given time (including generous donations from Hy-Vee, KFC, and Tyson) and making them into her specialties, such as bean soup, chilli, corn bread, and pea salad. A hearty cook, Kuhens makes sure each meal has a filling main course, as well as sides and a dessert, and Kuhens always allows diners to get seconds and thirds, so long as the eat them at the MSA. “I try to give them a good meal. For some of them, its the only good meal they get that day,” she shared.
With the MSA meal program now up and running for the year, Kuhens encourages any one in need of a hot meal or even just some social time to come out and enjoy lunch at the MSA from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week. Kuhens always cooks for a crowd, and welcomes everyone who comes through the MSA’s doors. For Kuhens, serving the meals at the MSA represents a labor of love. “It’s not work for me. I wish I could do more!” she shared.
However, for Kuhens and her one kitchen assistant, as they have gotten up in years, they have had to adjust their service to keep up with their capabilities. To make sure the MSA can continue to provide high quality meals to those who need them, the pair would appreciate additional helpers. From gathering supplies from the pantry, to opening cans, to preparing fresh vegetables, to serving meals, and cleaning up afterwards, Kuhens welcomes anyone willing to volunteer. “There’s always something for [volunteers] to do!” she emphasized.
If you would like to help Kuhens and the MSA keep their meal program robust for future generations, the MSA encourages you to get in touch by calling them at (563)-263-8272 or emailing them at [email protected].
For several generations in roles large and small, Kuhens has dedicated herself to keeping the MSA food program successful, touching many lives and feeding a real need in the community. In the years to come, she looks forward to sharing her passion with fresh volunteers to secure the future success of the program.