Soup Kitchen Feeds Community with Help From FBC Volunteers and Missions Giving
On a recent Thursday afternoon, a four-person team of volunteers, mostly from First Baptist Church, were serving to-go lunches of hot dogs, chips, fruit and cookies to patrons of The Lord’s Help Cornelia Soup Kitchen.
Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m., the Cornelia Soup Kitchen has persevered through the pandemic thanks to dedicated teams of volunteers from local churches and businesses.
“Before COVID we were serving between 30 and 70 plates a day,” said Shirley Dillard, Volunteer Coordinator for the soup kitchen. Shirley estimates between 20 and 30 people are coming now during the week, but the weekend can still bring between 50 and 70 people, especially if the Open Door Food Pantry next door is open.
“We have our regulars that come whenever we are open,” said Shirley. “Before COVID they would sit down and drink coffee together and fellowship. I know they miss that.”
The soup kitchen closed for a few weeks in March but reopened in April for takeout meals only. The soup kitchen’s Board of Directors will decide when they can safely reopen the dining room.
The pantry and freezer at the soup kitchen are getting bare. They are in “urgent need” of large, gallon-sized cans of fruits and vegetables, especially green beans and corn. On this day they only had enough green beans on the shelf for one more service. Canned fruit was also in short supply. When available, FBC Volunteer Ben Brooks uses fruit – of any kind – to make cobbler; it’s often requested by patrons.
Other needs are: meat (but not chicken; Fieldale Farms provides poultry products) spaghetti and macaroni noodles, sugar, cornmeal and coffee.
Donations of perishable and non-perishable items can be dropped off at the soup kitchen during their hours of operation, or by calling the church office.
“We are totally funded by donations,” said Shirley. Individuals, churches and businesses give to their monthly budget. FBC Cornelia gives $2,400 annually through its Unified Mission Offering. Donations of food and other supplies help the ministry stretch its budget to cover utilities, insurance and maintenance. The facility is owned by United Way and allows the ministry to operate rent-free.
From the current location to the donated equipment, there is a “God story” around every turn at The Lord’s Help Soup Kitchen, which is how the ministry got its name. Jeff Hudgens, former director, once stated “it was only with the Lord’s help” that the soup kitchen stayed open.
“Every time we needed something we thought was impossible, God provided,” said Shirley. “There is no doubt that God sustains the soup kitchen.”
The United Missions Offering Fund at FBC Cornelia is a supporter of The Lord’s Help Soup Kitchen. Other local ministries/agencies supported by the UMOF are:
Habersham Christian Learning Center Where about 200 students each year learn skills in dating, interacting with others, and building relationships. Students at Habersham Central High School can take elective classes at HCLC.
HUB of Habersham: A local faith-based organization that targets at-risk youth through its Teach 1 to Lead 1 Mentoring program at the Habersham County Success Academy. Contact: Blake Foster, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prevent Child Abuse Habersham: The Prevent Child Abuse Habersham mission is to prevent child abuse in all its forms before it occurs. PCAH offers educational programs to the community to combat abuse through training programs to recognize child sexual abuse; First Steps, for parents of new babies born at Habersham Medical Center; Parents as Teachers, supports parents through home visits and curriculum through their child’s first five years of life; Hope and Healing Habersham, peer support group for survivors of child sexual abuse. Contact: Myra Chandler, email@example.com.
Volunteers for Literacy/English as a Second Language (ESL) classes – Classes are held during the academic year for those desiring to learn English. Contact: Jim Miner, firstname.lastname@example.org