‘I have a desire to serve:’ Caterer finds his purpose in the kitchen while helping others

Michael Hayes took his 30 years of restaurant experience and founded God’s Table Ministries

This week’s Getting Results Award winner turned his love and passion for cooking into a way to help his neighbors.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – This week’s Getting Results Award winner turned his love and passion for cooking into a way to help his neighbors.

Every Wednesday morning, Michael Hayes opens the kitchen at First Baptist Daytona where he spends the day preparing more than 500 meals.

Hayes, a professional caterer with 30 years of experience, founded the nonprofit, God’s Table Daytona Beach.

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“Very few ministries do hot food like us,” Hayes said while stirring a tray of cabbage. “We probably feed 2,500 to 3,000 people a month with hot meals.”

A recent menu consisted of a beef and potato hash, zucchini squash and fresh cabbage.

“I don’t plan a menu,” Hayes said. “Because I don’t know what I’m going to get until Tuesday.”

Hayes relies on fresh food from Second Harvest Food Bank and donations from local grocery stores.

“We all have skills, you have skills in what you do, and mine just happens to be food,” Hayes said. “I have a desire to serve and see people happy.”

Hayes said that desire revealed itself one morning.

“I woke up and was reading a scripture,” Hayes remembered. “I said, ‘Lord I need to be serving more. I’ve been padding my pockets for years in the catering business. I would like to start doing something for you.’”

That first night he prepared 15 meals for a family using his kitchen at home.

Hayes’ ministry has grown and now he compares it to a Meals on Wheels concept.

“They’re starting to show up,” Hayes said, looking out the window. “They’ll be rolling in.”

Each evening the parking lot starts filling up with church vans and small SUVs. Volunteers arrive ready to deliver the meals out into their communities.

Janice Fulford, from Historic New Bethel AME Church in Ormond Beach, was one of the first in line.

“There’s a lot of hungry people that we see,” Fulford said. “To see the smiles on their face makes them know that somebody loves them.”

Hayes was nominated for the News 6 Getting Results Award by Cindy Crandall.

“I watch the dedication that he has and his compassion for people and I just knew that Mike needed to be recognized,” Crandall said.

Hayes said this work satisfies a need he didn’t know he had.

“An empty feeling, like there should be something else to it.” Hayes said.

Now he’s filled that void and and the dinning tables of those who are struggling.

“I said, ‘Lord use my life however you want,’ and this is how it’s transpired into what we’re doing now.”

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.