03/31/13 — Number served still increasing for Soup Kitchen

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Number served still increasing for Soup Kitchen

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 31, 2013 1:50 AM

Every year lately, the number of meals served at the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro has increased, topping out at 36,739 in 2012 -- an average of 137 people a day.

"We were up 4,000 (meals) more from the year before," said Director Doricia Benton. "It just keeps increasing, unfortunately.

"With the economy like it is and job loss, it's just the way things are flowing right now."

And, Ms. Benton said, it looks as though 2013 could be on track to top that with a total of nearly 10,000 meals already served by the end of the month.

Fortunately, she said, the community's support allows it to continue to meet that need.

"It's always a continual need. It's a day-to-day operation. It's a constant need for food, paper products. When you serve 150 meals a day, that's 150 paper plates, 150 drinking cups, napkins, silverware, and of course, the food. That's a lot of prep work and energy.

"The community embraces us. We couldn't do it without them. We couldn't do it without our volunteers."

As usual, she said, the soup kitchen's volunteer list is full, every day, for at least the next year. In fact, the only way she can make room for youth groups, businesses, civic organizations and others is to give her regular volunteers -- the ones who commit to coming regularly every week -- a day off.

"I'm booked for the year. That's the only way right now I can get anybody in," Ms. Benton said.

But, she added, that's a good problem to have.

"The volunteers, they are a very key ingredient in our day," she said.

And on Monday, she said, the soup kitchen's annual meeting gave her and the others charged with running the facility the opportunity to thank those volunteers. Among those singled out for recognition were Anne Marie Johnson as Volunteer of the Year, and four churches that, for the last three years, have provided lunch on Sundays -- Unity Fellowship, The Bridge, First Pentecostal Holiness Church and Antioch Baptist Church.

"We're open six days a week, but we have these churches that come in on Sunday," Ms. Benton said. "We don't open the doors, but they serve sort of a picnic lunch outside, and they make it really special for my friends.

"It helps a lot. A lot of my friends don't have anything to eat on Sundays or they are limited."

She also announced that the 2013 Really Chili Challenge -- the organization's one major fundraiser each year, and a great success in 2012 despite a last-minute venue change due to weather concerns -- will be held downtown on Oct. 26 .