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One year ago, a group of people set out to help veterans of the SouthCoast area with hot meals. Through trials and tribulations, these volunteers succeeded and continue to feed local citizens who have fought for the rights and freedom of all Americans.

The Veterans' Kitchen is located in Fall River's Corky Row Club, located at 602 Third Street. Today marks its one-year anniversary and the volunteer team is celebrating with a smile. These meals don't cost a penny and are given out on a first-come, first-served basis to any and all veterans.

And how far it has come in just that one year.

With only a few bucks in their pockets, Dawn Trahan and Dawn Dacosta began chipping away at a small project that would eventually turn out to be a big deal.

"It started with myself and (Dawn) on Pine Street and then moved it to Corky Row," Trahan told Fun 107. "We started this kitchen with $60 in our pocket. This idea came from Ray Higgs, who said, 'There's a lot of veterans who need meals,' so he gave us a business proposition and sent me over to the Corky Row Club to expand the project. Eventually things started falling into place."

The Veterans' Kitchen is a non-profit organization that is sponsored by the DAV of Fall River where free healthy meals are cooked for to veterans on Wednesdays. The team is comprised of all volunteers, mostly from Fall River, Somerset and Dighton. Most are service-related veterans or loved ones of those who were in the service.

Ten volunteers, two professional chefs, two retired Fall River firemen, two veteran's widows, two local veterans, one local citizen to the area and Trahan, who was medically discharged from the Department of Homeland Security, make up the Veterans' Kitchen team.

Courtesy of the Veteran's Kitchen

Trahan and her team rely on Facebook and social media to get the word out that any veteran and their families are welcome, as long as there is food to offer. If a veteran has a spouse and children, they can come in and eat. They're allowed to bring a guest.

"Some are less fortunate than others and this is their (veterans) only cooked meal and the only time they get to converse with other veterans," Trahan said. "We take care of them no matter what."

It's no question that 2020 has been a tough year for the Veterans' Kitchen as COVID-19 stood in the way of being able to serve people for quite some time.

"When COVID hit and Governor Baker was shutting everyone down, we had to shut down too for a couple of weeks to wait for the word on what to do next," Trahan said. "We're now allowed to let 50 veterans and their families in and we have (takeout) as well. Everyone must wear masks, temps are checked before entering and there's hand sanitizer at the door. It was a struggle when everything was shut down, but we overcame to feed the veterans."

Local companies have stepped up and come together to help out the small kitchen with donations and food deliveries.

"Tempest Fisheries plays a huge role by donating up to 50 pounds of fish or more when the kitchen needs it," Trahan said. "Donald J. Medeiros Insurance Company helps to fill our freezer, (City Councilor) Pam Laliberte helps donate and stock our freezers through her realtor group, Billy Desmarais is the Vice Commander of the Fall River Veteran Council who supplied us with all the pots and pans and fresh produce and homemade bread pudding gets donated from the Veteran's Garden out of West Bridgewater."

So how does someone get a hot meal? Trahan stated that If they're a veteran and it's their first time visiting, they should show a veteran ID card. Doors open at Corky Row on Wednesdays at 10:45 a.m. and start serving at 11. All are welcome to eat until 1:30 p.m. or until the food runs out. Again, this is a first-come, first-serve kitchen.

"The veterans always come first," Trahan said. "Our mission is that no veteran or their family ever goes hungry and that's what we live by."

If anyone would like to donate or lend a helping hand, please message them on the Veterans' Kitchen Facebook page.