Community soup kitchen expands

Volunteers serve casserole at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A little before noon on Valentine’s Day, a man wearing a framed-backpack and camouflage pants joined a long line that extends out from the doorway of the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church.

In the kitchen, a team of about 10 volunteers prepare and serve breadcrumb-covered casseroles to guests. It’s warm and smells like baked chicken. Small sugar cookies, dolloped with red frosting and mini heart-shaped sprinkles, spread across cookie sheets. Surprisingly, no soup is available.

Volunteers at the community soup kitchen at The Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2013 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Volunteers at the community soup kitchen at The Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2013 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

The community soup kitchen, operating under Dixie Care and Share’s nonprofit organization, expanded the number of serving days on Feb. 4 incorporating Tuesday to their Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule.

Soup Kitchen Director Jim Roberts said that they were able to add another day to their weekly schedule after the Utah Food Bank accepted their request for an increase in donations.

The greatest thing about being part of this service is how grateful people are after they eat a hot meal, Roberts said. “You know we have some homeless people who come in, but most of the people are working poor. Meaning they have a job but have to choose between paying the electricity bill and buying food. Sadly, food is usually the last on a list of basic necessities.”

Guests sit at the tables at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Guests sit at the tables at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“There is no requirement to eat,” Roberts said. “We do ask guests to sign in, so that we can track our numbers for the food bank.”

Grace Episcopal Church also partners with the Utah Food Bank as a location for distribution of 25 pound boxes of non-perishable food. Every second and last Friday each month nearly 90 boxes are distributed.

Since 2011, the soup kitchen has experienced very few cases of conflict, Roberts said.

“All our clients come from different backgrounds,” he said. “Some are dealing with emotional problems or have dealt with addiction but we have volunteers who are trained in social work and know how to calm down a situation. Any time you have guests who are homeless conflict is a factor because instability is a stress inducer.

Volunteers serve desserts at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Volunteers serve desserts at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

Food donations are provided by the Utah Food Bank, LDS bishop storehouse, and the community garden at Tonaquint Nature Center, Roberts said. Last year they were able to serve almost 16,000 meals for around $8,000.

The community soup kitchen receives a lot of support from the community, Roberts said. He said they can always take donations of paper plates, plastic forks and spoons because the soup kitchen does not have an industrial kitchen.

“One of the reasons I was drawn to this service is I believe there should be no starving people,” Roberts said. “Not today in America. We have two rules here, don’t talk politics and don’t talk religion.”

Volunteers serve casserole and show Valentine spirit at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Volunteers serve casserole and show Valentine spirit at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

In 2011, the Grace Episcopal Church in St. George took over providing weekday meals for the impoverished and working poor. Up until just recently, teams from different churches worked together to cook a meal Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The only requirement to eat is to have an empty tummy.

Co-director Linda Parker started out as a volunteer with her husband and said she wanted to spend more time helping so she and her husband became directors.

“I think the greatest gift is working with like-hearted people. People who really have a passion for helping people who have less than they do,” Parker said. “People are so appreciative for a simple hot meal. They will track you down just to thank you.”

Parker also said that the great thing about the community soup kitchen is that it has become a place where all church groups come together and help the less fortunate.

The volunteers consist of 26 rotating teams that are from an assortment of religious backgrounds and other affiliations including but not limited to:  Methodist, Grace Episcopal, Presbyterian, New Promise Lutheran, Knights of Columbus from the Catholic Church, LDS, Sun River Development, and the Walmart distribution center.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

Volunteers serve casserole at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Volunteers serve casserole at the community soup kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church, St. George, Utah, Feb. 14, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

 

 

 

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14 Comments

  • Bub February 16, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    The catholics didn’t want dirty needy poor people coming around, so they turned it over to grace episcopal.

    • Craig February 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

      Bub, take your meds. The Catholic Church sponsors Catholic Charities. Their thrift store is staffed by volunteers. They offer many quality items at affordable prices. In addition, they also provide furniture, clothing, shoes etc. to the destitute.

      • Bub February 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm

        The RCC is a ridiculous relic of times past–superstitious and some would say evil.

        • Craig February 17, 2014 at 3:16 pm

          Bub…All organized religion is built on superstition, myths and some would say lies. It’s not for everyone. It’s all about control. But, we’re talking about feeding the hungry and helping the poor. Try to stay on topic.
          Glad the new meds are working. You’re a bit more coherent now. : )

          • Bub February 17, 2014 at 5:49 pm

            So nice of you to say Craig 🙂

    • JamesB February 17, 2014 at 11:42 am

      Bub, you make my day. I love your comments, they make me chuckle.

  • Craig February 17, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Hey Joyce, Can we go back to knowing in advance who is leaving comments?
    It’s kinda hard to “stalk” Bub with the new format. ; )

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic February 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      We had an issue with comments overlaying, is that what you mean? I’ve sent your request to our fine wizards … stand by. 🙂

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic February 17, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      OK Craig, take a look now. The issue comes with many comments nesting under one provocative comment. 🙂
      So when you guys carry on for a long thread, you might want to start a fresh comment rather than just replying at some point or you’ll have to sort out the tangled threads.
      Will you?

      • Craig February 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

        Previously when a comment was left, the name of the poster showed. We could click on the name and it would take us directly to their comment. As it is now, when viewing the comment from the home page, we don’t know who left it unless we click it and then view it. Not a big deal, just makes it hard to follow Bub around. He is so colorful and entertaining.

        • Bub February 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm

          cute, and im flattered that you find it entertaining. But I find no sensible comments from the right-wingers, and when we try to get a little debate going in the comments, they just up and disappear. so… oh well…

          I’ll just say I’m fascinated by the different viewpoints and the products of religious brainwashing … so its somewhat a study of right-wing psychology, but only mildly entertaining, if that… cheers 🙂

          • Bub February 18, 2014 at 6:00 pm

            And a nice source for local news. Good works guys 😀

  • shane February 17, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Test test

  • Scott and Jess Perry April 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    We are looking for an old friend we have lost contact with. His last position was a chef at Ruby’s in Bryce Canyon and they stated he might be volenteering at your soup kitchen. His name is Scotty Marquardt. Please if you have any info our e-mail address is hoi@cut.net

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