The objective of the Soup Kitchen is to offer a "light" breakfast and a hot, nutritious lunch, six days a week, at no charge to its guests. Our "Food Policy" tries to assure that a hot breakfast is available several mornings a week, especially during the cold weather. At lunch, a variety of foods are offered so guests may make appropriate choices according to individual dietary and health needs. When everyone has been served, guests may get "take out" containers of food to take with them. Bread and produce are also available most days for taking. During the last fiscal year, the Soup Kitchen was open 297 days for lunch. A total of 23,385 meals were served, not counting seconds and "take outs" for a daily average of 92 individuals. The facility was open 299 days for breakfast, providing 14,057 meals, for a daily average of 51 people. In November of 2001 the Soup Kitchen began serving meals on Friday evenings from 5 to 7pm.
On Sundays, when the Soup Kitchen is not open, bag lunches are distributed at the Willimantic Co-op. While kitchen staff plan the lunch and provide the food, parishioners from Saint Paul's Church and other community volunteers prepare and pass out the lunches.
* In addition to the usual breakfast fare, a hot breakfast or cereal will be offered 2 to 3 times a week.
* No additional fats or salts will be added to food, except that absolutely necessary for preparation (i.e. vegetables will not be "buttered" before serving; when possible, gravies and cream sauces will be served separately).
* When available, 100% juice will be served at lunch-time in addition to milk and ice water.
* Some type of fruit or fruit salad will be served at each meal.
* White and dark breads will be served at each meal.
* Whenever possible, meatless selections will be served along with the regular lunch.
* Sugarless desserts will be served along with regular desserts when possible.
The Food Pantry responds to requests for emergency groceries on a once per month, per family basis. The pantry is open two hours per day, five days per week. In order to receive food, guests must first obtain an "Emergency Food Card" by registering at the Access Agency. This card then allows them to receive food assistance from other agencies in town. In August of 1998 the Food Pantry changed to a "Client Choice" format. Each person utilizing the service can choose the foods they prefer from shelves that are organized according to the Federal Government's Food Pyramid. Since this new format was introduced, we have seen a steady increase in the number of individuals using the pantry. Our numbers increased 10% last year, and we have seen an additional increase some months this year as high as 30%, for a total of 38,916 meals provided through the pantry. (Number of meals is calculated by the the number of people per family times nine: three meals for three days).
Our Care and Advocacy program is multi-faceted, attempting to serve any realistic need that may arise within our community of Soup Kitchen guests. Transportation, shelter, medical advocacy, prescriptions, referrals, budgeting, help with obtaining entitlements and filling out paperwork, are just a few of the needs that this program addresses on a regular basis. Often the help given is as varied as the people we serve.
As a part of the care and advocacy program, the Isaiah 58 Ministry acts as Social Security Representative Payee for individuals who are not deemed capable of handling their monthly disability payments. The major goal of this program is to give these individuals some stability within the community by making sure their rent and other bills are paid, and ultimately to prevent them from becoming homeless. Since this program started, we have had a total of 64 individuals that have utilized this service. Currently we have 52 Social Security recipients who we are serving. Through an agreement with United Services, many of the people in this program are UMHS clients that need help budgeting their limited disability incomes.