The History of
St. Mary's Food Kitchen
In the early 1980s, Louis Finocchario, former executive director of Catholic Social Services, began a ministry named the Social Concerns Group to address both nourishment and fellowship needs in Kansas City, Kansas.
The Social Concerns Group was made up of St. Peter Cathedral, Holy Name, Our Lady & St. Rose and Blessed Sacrament parishes along with Wilhelmina Gill who was an employee of Catholic Social Service. They called on Father Raymond Davern and Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker to explore the idea of working from the basement of St. Mary Church, located at 5th and Ann Ave. in Kansas City, Kansas. The first meal was on February 8, 1982. Eleven hungry people were fed that day.
To become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the food kitchen had to choose a business name. So it became Hot Lunch Service, Inc. dba (i.e. doing business as) St. Mary's Food Kitchen. The organization remained in the basement of St. Mary's Church until May 16, 1997 when it outgrew the available space. Mayor Joseph Steineger contacted United States Senator Bob Dole to secure funding to move Hot Lunch Service Inc. dba St. Mary's Food Kitchen, operating as an independent corporation, into it's current location.
Over forty years later, with the help of nearly 40 Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Christian churches and synagogues, St. Mary’s Food Kitchen is still making a difference in the lives of the local hungry population. Instead of serving fewer than a dozen people, the kitchen now feeds as many as 250 to 350 hungry residents on any given day, 365 days of the year. Hot Lunch Service, Inc. dba St. Mary’s Food Kitchen is located in downtown Kansas City, Kansas at 645 Nebraska Avenue.