Issue October 28, 2008

A friend indeed

Soup Kitchens report hunger is on the rise in Louisville

Many of our grandparents can remember The Great Depression, when church-sponsored and government-operated soup kitchens and bread lines helped feed hungry masses.

The term “soup kitchen” came from the fact that those early services supplied primarily bread and soup, because water could be added to soup in order to feed more people if necessary — and it often was, given that roughly 25 percent of America’s labor force was out of work.

While those times have long since passed (the current unemployment rate is about 6 percent), there are many whose options are limited in our current economic climate. In fact, the number is growing, according to Nina Moseley, chief operating officer of Wayside Christian Mission. Wayside’s soup kitchen serves hot meals three times daily, and Moseley says visitors consume roughly 2,500 total meals daily. Last year at this time, that number was about 1,700. A sign of the times?

“It all has to do with the economy,” Moseley says. “People don’t eat in soup kitchens unless they’re really hungry.”

Sometimes “really hungry” can translate to “really desperate”; Moseley says pride is usually the main reason a person won’t turn to a soup kitchen. In fact, she says many of Wayside’s soup-kitchen clients aren’t homeless, but rather people who have their own apartments or other decent places to stay but simply don’t have the means to buy food for themselves and their families. She says often they will run out of money and/or food stamps by the end of the month and will end up eating up to three meals a day at soup kitchens. Fortunately, all are welcome.

“There’s no particular criteria for people to come in and eat,” she says. “They do have to show an ID, but they don’t have to have proof of homelessness.”

Rick Kopple, director of Jeffersonville’s Community Kitchen, says the kitchen serves between 225 and 250 meals per day (lunch only, Monday through Friday), and says he has seen at least a 15 percent increase since he took over about a year ago. As a result, volunteers and increased donations are desperately needed.

“The majority of people we service are on fixed income, plus we also serve transients and the homeless,” he says. The increase in meals served, he says, “is based right on the economy.”

The good news is the meals are no longer based on watered-down soup. In fact, they’re more balanced and nutritional than they were just 20 years ago, when stockbroker Stan Curtis started Kentucky Harvest, one of the key suppliers to local food kitchens, along with the Dare to Care Food Bank, churches and other benevolent organizations.

A recent meal at Wayside consisted of chicken, peas and potatoes, and there is almost always salad and/or fruit, and often a dessert as well. Kopple described similar fare as the standard offering at the Community Kitchen, which gets most of its donations from Dare to Care and “the spiritual community.”

“It’s generally a very decent meal,” Moseley says. “The soup kitchens are not bad. We are very fortunate in Louisville that we have agencies like Kentucky Harvest and Dare to Care. Before Kentucky Harvest, it was mostly just beans and cornbread in the shelters. Not that there’s anything wrong with beans and cornbread, but day after day it gets monotonous.”

There are well more than a dozen soup kitchens in Louisville and Southern Indiana with various days and hours of operation, some of which, like Wayside, also offer shelter help and other social services.

Here is an alphabetical listing of local soup kitchens:

Cathedral of the Assumption, 582-2971
433 S. Fifth St. (Daily, 12:15-1 p.m.; menu varies, but often includes sandwiches, baked goods and soup.)

Centenary United Methodist Church, (812) 944-6867

309 E. Spring St., New Albany (First Sunday of each month, 2-6 p.m.)

Community Kitchen, (812) 283-0808

231 Pearl St., Jeffersonville (Daily, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; meals usually include salad, entrée, vegetable, starch, dessert and beverage.)

Dare to Care Food Bank Kid’s Café, 587-7405

930 W. Chestnut St. (Mon.-Fri., 4-5 p.m.; hot meals with entree, starch, vegetable and beverage; for people 18 and under.)

Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church, 585-2176

318 W. St. Catherine St. (Mon.-Tue., Thu.-Fri., noon-1 p.m.; sack lunch)

Franciscan Shelter House, 589-0140

748 S. Preston St. (Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; menu varies)

The Healing Place for Women, 568-6680
1607 W. Broadway (Sat.-Sun., 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and 4:30-5 p.m.; menu varies)

The Healing Place for Men, 583-0369

1020 W. Market St. (Mon.-Fri., 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; 4:30-5 p.m.; dinner restricted to men who sleep overnight; menu varies)

Hour of Power, (812) 945-1937

108 W. Main St., New Albany (Tue., 5:15-6 p.m.; menu varies)

Jefferson Street Baptist Center, 584-6543
733 E. Jefferson St. (Mon.-Thu., 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 7 a.m.-noon; coffee and doughnuts)

Jefferson Street Baptist Community @ Liberty, 585-3787

800 E. Jefferson St. (Sun., 12:15-1 p.m.)

Lampton Baptist Church, 541-7020

850 S. Fourth St. (Wed., 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; menu varies)

Lord’s Kitchen, 634-1665

2732 S. Fifth St. (Mon.-Sat., 8-9 a.m.; Mon.-Sun., 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Tue.-Thu., 5-6 p.m.; hot meals, menu varies)

Lord’s Kitchen West, 772-5384

1100 S. 26nd St. (Mon.-Sat., noon-1 p.m.; Tue., 5-6 p.m.; hot meals, menu varies)

Main Street United Methodist Church, (812) 944-4525

516 W. Main St., New Albany (Wed., 5:30-6 p.m.; menu varies)

Salvation Army Center of Hope, 625-1170

831 Brook St. (Daily, 7-8 a.m. and 5-6 p.m.; menu varies)

Silver Street United Methodist Church, (812) 948-1331

413 Silver St., New Albany (Wed., 6-6:30 p.m.; menu varies, depending on donations)

St. Augustine Church, 584-4602

1310 W. Broadway (Mon.-Wed. and Fri., 10:30 a.m.-noon; sandwiches)

St. Mark’s United Church of Christ, (812) 945-2569

222 E. Spring St., New Albany (Daily, noon-1 p.m.; menu varies)

St. Mary’s Church, (812) 945-1904

415 E. Eighth St., New Albany (Mon., 6-7 p.m.; menu varies)

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church — Carriage House, (812) 945-8023

219 E. 11th St., New Albany (Fri., 6-6:30 p.m.; menu varies)

St. Vincent de Paul Open Hand Kitchen, 584-2480

1026 S. Jackson St. (Mon.-Fri., noon-12:30 p.m.; Mon.-Fri., 5-5:30 p.m.; entrée, vegetables, salad, dessert, bread and beverage)

Wayside Christian Mission, 584-3711

432 E. Jefferson St. (Men: daily, 6:30-7:15 a.m., 12:30-1:30 p.m. and 6-6:30 p.m.)

822 E. Market St. (Women and Families: daily, 7:30-8 a.m., noon-12:30 p.m. and 5-5:30 p.m.; Community: daily, 8-8:30 a.m. and 12:30-1:30 p.m.; meals usually include salad, entrée, vegetable, starch, dessert and beverage.)

YMCA Safe Place Services, 635-5233

2400 Crittenden Drive (Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-noon; menu varies)