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Chicago Seniors Give 'A Spoonful Of Hope' To Those In The Community Who Need Meals

CHICAGO (CBS) -- At a time in life when many people are enjoying retirement, a generous group of church members on Chicago's South Side are working hard to feed the hungry.

CBS 2's Jim Williams goes inside their kitchen.

The volunteers arrive here early every Monday morning. At 6:00, the kitchen is abuzz as they prepare more than 200 hot meals at the café they call "A Spoonful of Hope."

On the menu this day: green beans, French fries, pork roast, rolls and more.

"Here they get a whole entrée. Everything. Dessert, the meal, the juice."

It takes hours to prepare these hot meals, and to pack them up and get them in the hands of folks who need them, and take them home.

People like Sheena Watts.

"Oh we would be starving. We would be starving. That's why I come every week. So I can eat."

Once a week, in the basement of the Martin Temple AME Zion Church at 69th and Cottage Grove, the volunteers, many of them elderly and some in their 80s and 90s, put in the work. But they don't call it work. It's service, they insist.

Sue Watson, soon to turn 80, oversees the operation.

"We need to help. That's what we're about. God said feed my sheep 'as you do unto them you do unto me.' I love it," Watson said.

After receiving groceries from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the volunteers fire up the stoves and ovens, chop up and mix ingredients. All with the efficiency of a top flight restaurant, maintaining an easy comradery and shared mission.

"It's a typical kitchen. A bunch of people together having a good time, loving what they do, all together," said head chef Bonnie Hollings.

"A Spoonful of Hope" they call this eatery. Now in its 21st year. They're paid in expressions of gratitude.

"This is a like a full time job and yes they do have to start early. And it takes a team and they work as a team," Watts said. "And we are so blessed to have them and blessed to have this church here."

One longtime volunteer said as a student I hated Mondays. Now I love them. The AME Zion Church at 69th and Cottage Grove serves up lunch every Monday all year long. Volunteers said the need is greater now because a number of charities in the area that have closed.

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