MACOMB — Just three years into its fruition, the monthly Soup and More free dinner continues to see signs of growth.
The ecumenical organization, which seeks to address area food insecurity on each month’s fourth Sunday, hosted its regular dinner over the weekend. According to Melissa Calhoun, a CORE committee member for Soup and More, the dinner has expanded in a short time, even changing locations from its place of origin.
“We started out at Cafe’ Aroma and by the third meal there was not enough space,” Calhoun said. “We have, in just this Spring, had to move pack-a-sack (into a different) room to accommodate more people.”
Nick Draper/The Voice. Sara Kimler and Roger James prepare sausage for the Soup and More dinner.
Nick Draper/The Voice. Wes Whitson serves out fruit for the hungry diners at Soup and More on Sunday.
On average, the organization provides dinner for 150 individuals every month and provides groceries via the “pack-a-sack” food pantry for around 70 families, said CORE committee member Kathie Whitson.
Meals vary each month, providing things like cornbread, fruit salad, soups, beans and a variety of other dishes all prepared hot and ready by the volunteer staff. Additionally, a delivery service is offered for families in absolute dire-straits emergency situations.
First Presbyterian Church, 400 E. Carroll St., in Macomb provides the organization with the space it needs to run the dinner and pantry.
On Sunday, The Crossing’s volunteer group was in attendance, along with several Western Illinois University, students to help get the food to the hungry attendants.
Many different groups volunteer each month.
“You never know who’s going to show up and volunteer,” Whitson said. “It’s not just churches, it’s also civic groups, OASIS (Organization of Adult Students for Interaction and Support) will be coming out next month.”
Dinners served by the organization are made possible by voluntary donations. Larger donations come from the organization Volunteers Interested in Benefiting Everyone, Dot Foods, Midwest Food Bank and the Riverbend Food bank, according to Whitson.
This year the Soup and More are looking to bring organics into the dinners that they serve. For example, the onions used in the dinner on Sunday were grown in the Macomb Community Garden.
“We’re going to plant some fall vegetables,” Calhoun said of the organic selection. “We want to start plots that are specifically for Soup and More for the meals and to hand out.”
The dinner event is held on the fourth Sunday of every month because, Whitson said, that is when SNAP assistance generally runs out and people are in the most need.
Those looking to volunteer at the program including food preparation, dining room and pack-a-sack set up, clean up or food pick up can get more information on Soup and More’s website at www.soupandmore.org