Soup kitchen serving thousands of bowls
Merritt’s soup kitchen is looking to serve up another successful year, after a short hiatus over the Christmas season.
Following 14 years of operation, co-organizer and cook Pam Whitaker has honed her soup making skills and has helped satisfy the hunger of an average of 50 to 100 people who arrive for lunch each Tuesday.
“I call it a bowl of love,” she said. “It feels so good, after hearing that there is such a need, to be able to help out.”
She said churches throughout the community have donated to the soup kitchen, in an effort to keep hungry Merrittonians, and visitors, fed.
Along with her husband, Ernie, the couple felt the need in the community, and they took over when the former co-ordinator left in the late 1990s.
Their care has even resulted in pair delivering soup to sick individuals.
The year-over-year number of people attending the soup kitchen was relatively the same in 2012. With up to 100 people attending each Tuesday, that adds up to a lot of bowls of soup throughout the year.
Organization and cooking requires much effort, the couple said, and they will eventually need help to keep the soup flowing.
“We’re getting a little older and we’d like it if someone were to step up to help out,” Ernie said, noting the kitchen serves about 20 gallons of soup every week.
In addition to the weekly lunch, the soup kitchen hosted a Christmas dinner for 200 people at its location at the Anglican Church Hall on Chapman Street.
“We had help from the Native Justice Department, and it went really well,” Pam said. “We got a great response from the people who attended.”
The Merritt RCMP helped by serving.
The kitchen was then closed because of Christmas and New Year’s falling on Tuesdays.
“Now it’s back to normal, one day a week on Tuesdays,” Pam said, noting she’s pleased with the amount of ingredients and tools donated to make the soup. “The community has been generous to us.”
Some of that response comes from Cooper’s Foods, which donates items such as day-old bread.
In addition to soup, the hungry guests are occasionally treated to sandwiches.
“They can have all the refills of soup that they want, and they also get desserts and buns,” Pam said.
A core group of about 40 people attend the kitchen, with transients also stopping in. Students from Merritt Secondary School also occasionally arrive for lunch.
The kitchen is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays.