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Iowa

Chef keeps homeless kitchen going after getting $10G from Ellen DeGeneres

Remember Derrick Walton, aka Chef D?  We first told you about him in February and his incredible story of going from homeless on the streets in Detroit to feeding thousands of homeless people. 

Walton owns Chef D's Rock Power Pizza in Des Moines, Iowa, but once a week he closes it to feed others in need. 

After our story, and other media attention, he appeared on the "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," in April where he received $10,000 check and pledged keep his operation going. 

Now that winter is coming, Walton says he can now afford to feed people who come into the restaurant looking for a bite to eat all week. Walton said the money has helped him pay the Monday night bills and then some.  

But it wasn't always like this. After living on the Detroit streets, he moved to Iowa to start over, but his past followed closely behind. It wasn't long before he was in trouble with the law and found himself with a five-year prison sentence, and a rap sheet for drugs, sexual assault, and theft. He finished serving that sentence only four years ago.

"You're not proud of those things, but that's not who you are," said Walton.

While in prison he made a promise to himself to help others if he were to get back on his feet. Walton has since made good on that promise.

Along with his homeless kitchen and restaurant, he started his own family and has two sons. Chef D met his wife, Kristen, shortly after he finished serving his prison sentence. She said their first dates were at church. 

"I don't look at Derrick's prison part as a bad thing, I feel almost that he had to take that time out in his life and become who he is," said Kristen.

Chef D decided it was important to take time from his own business every Monday to feed those who need a helping hand. He cooks full meals of a meat, vegetables, a starch, and dessert to anyone who comes in the restaurant, at no charge. Plus there's always hot coffee and soda.

"When I actually come to the restaurant and actually witness it, it's breathtaking to tell you the truth," said Kristen.

The community has rallied around Walton and his mission. He said grocery stores have donated food, people bring in clothes to give away, and he never has a shortage of volunteers for Monday night dinners. 

But some of those donations have slowed--and that's why the gift from Ellen was so important.
       
Walton shares his story and faith with anyone who wants to hear. He said he tells people, if he can do it, they can too. Walton attributes much of his success to his faith and is proud to display it in the restaurant.

He's thankful for all the support and, in turn, so are those he feeds --giving those a helping hand to get through another week.

Lauren Blanchard is a graduate of the Junior Reporter program at Fox News. She is now a multi-platform journalist and occasional general assignment news reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBlanch12