December 19, 2009 8:47:00 PM
The Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen will soon reach a goal it set when it was organized in the summer of 2008 to help feed those in need. The ministry, which has been serving meals on Mondays and Fridays at the Salvation Army at 2219 Main St., will soon be moving into a permanent home -- just next door, in the former location of Cash Distributing.
Board members and volunteers are grateful to the Salvation Army for the use of its space in the start-up period, and are excited about the possibilities having a permanent home offers.
"We''ll have the ability to expand," said board member Sandra DePriest. "The thing that is spurring this on is that the numbers of people we''re feeding has so far exceeded our expectations. Part of that is a sign of the economy." The group expects to serve the first meal from the new location on Monday, Feb. 15.
Recently, the program has been feeding at least 100 or more people and, at times, more than double that.
Pam Rhea, who is to be ordained to the Permanent Deaconate in the Episcopal Church in January, will serve as executive director of Loaves & Fishes in the new location. The program will share the large building with CONTACT Helpline and Helping Hands.
The soup kitchen will need appliances, commercial cookware and supplies.
"With some closed restaurants around, we''re hoping someone might like to donate the used equipment," DePriest said. "We''ll also have to have ongoing items including paper products and utensils, garbage bags, liquid soap, dish detergent and cleaning supplies."
Multiple churches and volunteer groups currently prepare and serve mid-day meals to program participants, but more are always needed.
Frances Johnson was in on the ground floor when Loaves & Fishes was first formed. She serves as acquisitions chair for the new facility.
"One thing that has really impressed me in this endeavor is that it''s brought more of the community together," she said. "We all are getting to know each other; more entities in the community see the need and come and help serve. We get to interact -- and we become a more solid community as a result."
To donate equipment or supplies, or to make a tax-deductible monetary donation to help purchase equipment, contact Johnson at 662-328-1986.
Loaves & Fishes needs list
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.