On a recent Friday morning, mothers with small children began arriving at 7:30 am –- three hours early. The moms sat together and enjoyed the air conditioning, rest and conversation in the church’s Celebration Center, while their kids played together nearby. Meanwhile, Tom Sharp and his team of volunteers were moving non-stop, preparing hot meals, meeting the Second Helpings truck, setting up the food pantry (known as the “Harvest Table”) and a small selection of gently-used clothing. The volunteers know each of these families, and they made time to greet and converse with them.
By 10:30, everything was ready. In the hour that followed, 30 families picked up 80 lunches and selected from fresh corn and other farm-fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, milk, canned goods and bakery items that they will enjoy for at least the next several days. The number of families rises to 40 to 50 during the winter months.
This ministry is made possible by the St. Andrew’s community, Second Helpings, and the Deep Well Project. “It’s a three-legged stool,” Sharp explained. St. Andrew’s pays for the cost of hot meals and operating the facility, while Second Helpings provides fresh produce, meat, dairy, and baked goods (12,606 pounds in 2021) and Deep Well provides “90% of the canned goods we distribute,” Sharp estimated.
St. Andrew’s Soup Kitchen was started in 2011 to provide Friday lunches to the homeless, hungry, unemployed and working poor from their church neighborhood, “with dignity, compassion and lots of love,” as their website explains. The “Harvest Table” of fresh produce became a larger food pantry, nearly doubling in size since 2018.
“We appreciate our partnership with Second Helpings,” Sharp said. “The volunteers are wonderful to work with, and we are so pleased with the food you provide.”