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December 7, 2010

Soup kitchens. We still need them.

Chicago soup kitchen

In the online history pages of the Social Security Administration, I found this photograph of men waiting to enter a soup kitchen sponsored by the gangster Al Capone, in Chicago, during the Great Depression. For many, the free soup would be all they would have to eat that day.

Yesterday morning, we visited the food pantry in a town near ours, a small Rhode Island town of fewer than 5,000 residents, to deliver cookies from our Drop In & Decorate® event this past weekend. The food pantry was piled with bags of potatoes and canned stew, boxes of pasta, jars of peanut butter, a few loaves of bread that had been donated. Later this week, those cans and jars and potatoes will be bagged and distributed to residents of this rural town to help them feed their families.

As I shivered in my coat and gloves, carrying cookies from the truck to the food pantry in just a few seconds, I thought about how cold it would be to wait on line, outside in our Rhode Island winter, for a hot bowl of soup.


Posted by: pam | December 7, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Just donated cans for our schools can food drive.

Posted by: Kalynskitchen | December 7, 2010 at 07:00 PM

It's sad that we still need them, but there's no doubt that we do. I love to think of the food pantry recipients getting a beautifully decorated cookie!

Posted by: Janet | December 8, 2010 at 07:46 AM

We have two food barrels in the lobby of my UU Fellowship. I take a couple of cans or packages of pasta every Sunday. It's just part of my weekly shopping. Many people do the same thing and families with kids let their children choose the donation while at the grocery store.It keeps them thinking of others. I think we fill 4 barrels a month.

Posted by: Pauline | December 8, 2010 at 08:58 AM

A question that always comes to mind when I see pictures of Soup Kitchen lines is "Where are the women and children?"

Posted by: Lydia | December 8, 2010 at 09:56 PM

Pam, that's a beautiful thing.

Kalyn, delivering the cookies always makes me happy. No matter how challenging the circumstances of life, everyone deserves a beautiful cookie.

Janet, what a wonderful way for your community to support neighbors in need.

Pauline, I absolutely thought the same thing. In all the photos of soup kitchens from the Depression, there are few (if any) women in the lines.

Posted by: susan g | December 9, 2010 at 09:45 AM

Re where are the women?:
The sign says "for the unemployed" -- is it possible that women were not considered "unemployed"? Certainly it was not uncommon for women to work, even women with families, but were they thought of as "employed"?
My grandfather died in 1918, leaving my grandmother with 6 children, 4 of them 10 and under. She resisted putting the children in other homes, got support to sell food from her kitchen (yes, soup). It was a struggle in the so-called good years. That and community support, and the older boys leaving school to work, kept the family afloat.

Posted by: Emgrow | December 10, 2010 at 01:35 AM

I volunteer at a local church for their Wednesday soup day. There are tables with cloth tablecloths, cloth napkins, salt & pepper shakers, butter, all on each table. We, the volunteers, serve the patrons, offering at least two kinds of soup, served with bread donated from a local artisan bread shop and cookies from a local caterer. There is a table with water, ice if one wants, coffee and tea where one can choose what they like, as well as a long table with more cookies and bread, also hand knit watchcaps and donated sweaters, shirts, coats. I am proud to be part of this effort and wish there were more places such as this, although I truly wish they were unnecessary, that all had a roof over their heads and food to eat. Until that day comes, I will be at that church every Wednesday, grateful to be able to serve those who come. Elaine in PT, WA

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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