In the community

Idaho Methodist church takes over Origins property but meal service suspended

ONTARIO – A kitchen that serves more than 100 meals daily to the homeless closed last week but regional Methodist church leaders are stepping up to restore that outreach.

The New Hope Kitchen was part of the Origins Faith Community Church’s community outreach effort that also included addiction and mental health services.

The kitchen and other services were funded through a state grant that was terminated by the state last month. Since then the fate of the kitchen has been in limbo.

However, Frank Borst, Origins Faith Community Church board member and secretary, said last week the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church will take over ownership of the church building at 312 N.W. 2nd Street.

In an Oct. 12 press release, the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church announced the New Hope Kitchen and shower services at the church would cease temporarily. The release said the conference plans to partner with the Nampa First United Methodist Church for “a new ministry” at the site.

“In order to launch a new ministry, though, we need time to make the building safe, clean and accessible as well as secure new financial support,” the release said.

Conference officials said they plan to partner with the community to create a new name for the ministry.

There is no timeline for reopening the kitchen and shower facilities at the church, said Kristen Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Oregon-Idaho Conference.

“The Nampa church is acutely aware how important the community kitchen has been to the Ontario community,” she said.

Caldwell said the Oregon-Idaho Conference agreed to “hold the property for the next year for Nampa First to raise the necessary funds to develop the ministry programs and the things they want to do.”

“They have plans. They want to be a ministry in Ontario and so that is their hope. But it will take some time to figure out what steps they will take,” she said.

The Oregon-Idaho Conference sold the building to Origins Faith for $1 in 2017, said Caldwell.

Caldwell said the deed stipulated that if worship services ceased at the church, the Oregon-Idaho Conference would take back the building.

Borst said last week while the New Hope Kitchen and the addiction and mental health services once offered by the church will cease, Origins will still exist as an entity.

Borst said the Nampa First United Methodist Church is “committed to continue services.”

“That was actually one of the attractive things about partnering with us to take over the church. They are interested in relaunching the church but also continue to provide services Origins provided previously,” said Borst.

Origins had provided Covid pandemic relief services, addiction counseling, a thrift store and helped manage the tiny homes shelter program.

The thrift store – called The Bridge Renewed – closed in June. In September the state terminated a grant that helped fund the agency’s addiction services and its food kitchen.

Borst said the state ended the grant because his organization could no longer meet the original requirements. Origins received $513,640 from the state in the last year.

Origins Faith encountered a number of challenges after it received the grant in August 2022, including employee turnover and the termination of the organization’s director, Heather Echeveste.

According to the state, from January through May, Origins also didn’t submit mandatory spending reports or program narratives regarding the services delivered through the grant money.

State also noted Origins furnished incomplete reports that made it impossible to determine if services reached those in need.

Borst said he isn’t sure if the Nampa church will seek grant funding from the state but said it will provide services “similar to what Origins provided in the past.”

Borst said he believes the New Hope Kitchen will continue.

“That is one of the reasons we chose to transition with them because of their passionate commitment to continue those services. In what shape or form that will be and what are the details I can’t speak to,” said Borst.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]