By Marie Roberts / Guest writer
The Meridian Star
Meridian native Jacob Allen is no world-famous chef, but the hundreds of people he feeds each year would argue otherwise.
“Jacob can take just about anything and make it taste good,” said Connie Johnson, an elderly retiree who eats from Allen’s table one each week. “He saw that people in our neighborhood were hungry and he opened up his kitchen to them.”
Allen, who grew up volunteering in food pantries and with his local church, cooks dinner one night per week for anyone and everyone, regardless.
“It started out that I kept making too much food when I cooked, which then led to people stopping by on ‘Supper Night’. Now I just open up my home to anyone who needs a meal or place to rest,” Allen said.
The 28 year old never planned on feeding strangers, but he saw a need in our community and decided to do something about it.
The back story behind Allen’s journey is simple: “I bought an older home inside the city limits, and I wanted it to be known for something good. This just kind of happened. I don’t think it’s a big deal to feed people when I can, I just want other people to try and do something good, too.”
For a local forklift driver like Allen, cooking for others on such a massive and frequent scale was not in his life plan.
“When I get off work on Thursday afternoons, some of the little ladies from next door come over and help make biscuits or cornbread, then I start fixing up whatever the main dish will be," Allen said. “I try to mix it up. Some weeks in the winter I’ll make stews and soups and chilies, but in the summer I like to try out new recipes.”
Last week’s entrée, a chicken salad, was made from apples grown in Allen’s yard, and pecans shelled by a neighbor.
“It’s not like we don’t do this together. This is a community effort. We come together, make a meal, and fellowship over it,” Allen said.
Allen’s concept is simple: “Sitting down at table with someone makes you learn more about them. You invest your time and energy and get friend in return.”