On February 23 the Carroll County Soup Kitchen hosted their annual Empty Bowls fundraiser at the Carroll County Agriculture Center. The next day it was back to business as usual, feeding hundreds of hot meals to Carrollton’s more needy residents in a five-day span.
The last week of every month, beginning every day when many people are still getting ready in the morning, Soup Kitchen volunteers are hard at work preparing nutritious, homestyle meals for those in need. Monday through Friday, a small staff of volunteers in a fully functional commercial kitchen prepare hot meals for hungry Carrolltonians. One volunteer of 16 years stated, “…sometimes they [those on government assistance] really struggle financially near the end of the month, so serving a hot meal and sending them home with something for their families can make all the difference.”
Individual volunteers work alongside groups from Southwire’s Project Gift, Fairfield Women’s Club, and the University of West Georgia chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, as well as various local churches.
Hot plates aren’t the only thing on the menu. The Soup Kitchen offers attendees that stay for lunch a bag of food to take home to their families. Consisting of sandwiches, canned items, sweet cakes, milk, and a loaf of bread, these bags are assembled in a process that usually takes fewer than three hours. That’s an astounding feat considering up to 350 of these bags are produced a day, including deliveries to those who are not able to attend lunch.
Though these bags are made available to those that need them, Nick Ware, Soup Kitchen Board Member and volunteer of 10 years made clear that the soup kitchen is not simply a food pantry. When asked for further comment, Ware explained, “There are many “food pantries” in the area, where an individual can go to receive a box of food for their family, but there are very few kitchens that can serve the hundreds of meals that we do each month.” He added, “Both types of facilities are important to help stamp out hunger, but our strength is in preparing a nutritious hot meal 10 or 11 times each month.”
Much of this service is made possible by donations from organizations like Publix, which provides donated canned goods and staples, and Bimbo Bakeries, a North American food distribution conglomerate which donated over 27,000 items in January alone. This recurring donation allows the Soup Kitchen to coordinate with 20 other agencies to distribute the surplus. An internally circulated email stated that these agencies “range south to Franklin, west to Heflin, north to Buchanan, east to Villa Rica, and all points in between.”
The Carroll County Soup Kitchen is open for lunch every Tuesday and Thursday (no community service or groups,) as well as the week of March 23-27. For further information and to sign up visit their website at: carrollcountysoupkitchen.org Volunteer groups are encouraged to schedule a month in advance.