Thanks to countless hours of volunteer labor and assistance from FEMA, it looks like the building of the new Love's Kitchen is on again. Hurricane Katrina halted the project in late August.
More than $50,000 in labor and materials, most of it donated, was destroyed by the storm. Volunteers helped to repair some of the damage, but more help was needed.
Love's Kitchen applied for FEMA assistance twice and was turned down both times, but the third time is the charm. Two weeks ago Love's Kitchen was finally approved for FEMA assistance and on Thursday two FEMA representatives were in town to get the ball rolling.
"We just have to go through the right steps and right stages of this process to be able to get the assistance that we need to help us with the completion of our construction of our building," said Ruth Irwin, director of Love's Kitchen.
Irwin says it never would have happened without an endorsement from Cong. Chip Pickering.
In a written statement Pickering said:
"FEMA correctly reevaluated Love's Kitchen and determined it qualifies for hurricane recovery funds. I'm glad FEMA made this determination and my office will continue to work with the staff and volunteers of Love's Kitchen to see them through the reimbursement process. We look forward to seeing their new building completed and opened to serve the hungry in the Meridian and Lauderdale County area."
Irwin said she is thrilled by the new development and it finally feels like the project is moving forward again.
"This will end up being the best thing that could possibly happen to our community," Irwin said.
Officials with Love's Kitchen say they now feed twice the people they were less than a year ago and the new facility is desperately needed.