Gracie Preache, a lifetime Nassauville resident, ran her father’s grocery store after his passing and was always ready to give a helping hand to those in need.
While she was volunteering at the Salvation Army Hope House in Fernandina Beach, she knew that she wanted to extend the food ministry to Yulee.
The Interfaith Dinner Network had been formed to provide meals to those in need in the Fernandina Beach area, and Gracie, knowing of the same need in Yulee, along with Maryellen Crocker, John Gilbert, and Larry Wood, started the wheels in motion to provide meals in Yulee.
The team recruited nearby churches as volunteers, found a location for the kitchen, the “old” Yulee Middle School, and gained permission from the Nassau County School Board to open for meal service.
Dishes and kitchen appliances were collected, and a refrigerator was donated. Desks were moved out of the classrooms, and islands were added in the kitchen for work space. The kitchen and an adjoining classroom were cleaned and turned into a cooking space and dining room.
Gracie’s Kitchen opened on September 7, 2010 and served 7 meals that night. Although Gracie Preache passed away several years ago, Maryellen carries on her friend’s dream “to nourish the hungry and feed their spirit.”
Today, still in the same location at the “old” Yulee Middle School, we serve 250 to 300 meals a night, 4 nights a week to those that come to Gracie’s Kitchen.