The Bainbridge Soup Kitchen, a ministry of Bainbridge Church of God on Independent Street, recently celebrated its second anniversary of providing free weekly meals to those in need.
The Soup Kitchen is open from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday nights at the Bainbridge Church of God’s multipurpose building. In January, the kitchen marked its 100th consecutive week of serving meals and continues to grow, not only in the amount of meals it serves but also the number of caring services it provides to many people in Bainbridge.
The Bainbridge Soup Kitchen has served more than 6,300 meals to date and has served an average of 63 meals every week since the start. That number is growing: during the last three months of 2014, the soup kitchen served an average of 96 meals per week.
Although the church hosts the soup kitchen, religion isn’t pushed on those who come to eat. However, many of those who come in also express a need for spiritual nourishment. And the volunteers, which include both church members and others who are not members but want to help out, are happy to help with that, too.
“It’s a ministry whose aim is to meet the needs of the community,” said Bainbridge Church of God Pastor Jaime Rivera. “Serving the meals puts us in their lives, but we also get the opportunity to pray with them and minister to them when they ask.”
The Bainbridge Church of God’s membership has supported the Soup Kitchen financially, along with other community partners who often donate food. Pastor Rivera said the soup kitchen is an important part of the Bainbridge Church of God’s Home Missions focus.
There’s about 13-15 active volunteers who work at the soup kitchen on a regular basis, handling everything from food preparation, serving and even security.
“The ladies in the kitchen are the ones who make it happen every week,” said Cathy McAnelly, director of the soup kitchen. “The cooks get here at 2 p.m. on Thursday and start preparing the food, and the ladies take turns with kitchen duty.”
Rivera said the soup kitchen is truly a community partnership.
“Without faithful giving in and out of the church, we couldn’t do it,” River said. “Our pantry keeps re-filling. We’ve never had a week without a meal. The community and businesses always step up and make it possible.”
McAnelly agreed, noting that the soup kitchen has volunteers and supporters from other Decatur County churches.
“It’s awesome how the soup kitchen has brought members of various churches together,” she said.
Wade Lang, assistant director of the soup kitchen, gave an example of how the soup kitchen can help spiritual needs, as well.
“We had a man who comes in that’s about 70 years old, he walks to the soup kitchen most every week. One particular day, he told me he was sick and didn’t want to eat, but he came to the soup kitchen anyway because he wanted someone to pray with him. Some of the volunteers ended up leading him to become a Christian, and we continue to fellowship with him.”
The food is good, too: on a recent Thursday night, the soup kitchen’s menu included fried fish, baked beans, a green bean casserole. Spaghetti, corn and green beans is another popular menu. The soup kitchen’s volunteers also offer Vitamin C tablets to anyone would like one.
McAnelly explains, “Some of the people who come in to the soup kitchen have lower immune systems and lack access to medical resources. Vitamin C and a fresh glass of water are just our way of trying to help them stay healthy.”
Because the multipurpose gym is used by other groups, too, soup kitchen patrons also get to hear choir practice and if they want to, sit in on a Christian-based substance abuse recovery group.
Since August 2013, the Bainbridge Soup Kitchen has also been operating a food pantry that distributes about 600 food boxes a year to families in the community. Through donations of food and the low cost of food purchased through the Second Harvest of South Georgia Food Bank in Thomasville, the soup kitchen has been able to provide a box of food with a retail value of about $40.00 for just $8 each.
The food pantry delivers food boxes to pre-approved families the last Thursday of each month, aiming to provide supplemental food at the end of each month, when a family’s resources are at their lowest. They also deliver Thanksgiving meals to many families. Lang said it’s estimated the Bainbridge Soup Kitchen distributes about $24,000 worth of food each year to families who need help.
A Message from the Bainbridge Church of God Soup Kitchen
Please help us feed our hungry friends and neighbors…here’s how:
- Financial Donations – Your contributions can be multiplied through the Soup Kitchen. Please make your check out to the Bainbridge Church of God and write ‘Soup Kitchen’ in the memo section of your check. Also, debit and credit cards are accepted at the church’s office on Independent Street.
- Food Donations – We gladly accept non-perishable food items or kitchen supplies. The items can be dropped off at the Bainbridge Church of God, located at 205 Independent Street.
- Volunteer – You can complete a volunteer application and donate your time to helping others.
To help out with the soup kitchen or find out more information, you can also contact:
Cathy McAnelly, Director of the Bainbridge Soup Kitchen, at (229) 220-3293
Wade Lang, Assistant Director of the Bainbridge Soup Kitchen, at (229) 726-4360
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