A new philanthropic endeavor in Bulloch County, Feeding Statesboro, will serve its first soup kitchen meal during the noon hour Tuesday.
Volunteers from Feeding Statesboro’s membership, Georgia Southern University students, area churches and other community volunteers will gather at Trinity Episcopal Church on the bypass to prepare and serve the meal. Tony Piscano, a culinary arts instructor at Ogeechee Technical College, will oversee and direct the soup kitchen’s food preparation.
Rebecca Murray is president of Feeding Statesboro, a non-profit organization started by a group of friends who are concerned about the welfare of people in the local community.
“There's a lot of need here in Statesboro,” Murray said. “The 2007 census indicated that almost 43% of the population of Statesboro lived below the poverty line. Imagine what the need is now, after several years of economic crisis.”
Feeding Statesboro, which currently has 50 members, meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month at Trinity Episcopal. Membership is open to anyone who pays yearly dues of $5.00 or who provides 5 hours of service within a year. While Feeding Statesboro is not affiliated with Trinity, Murray said the executive board is grateful to Trinity’s rector, Joan Killian, for generously offering the church as a meeting place and site of the soup kitchen.
Patricia Beblowski, a volunteer who helps the organization with fund raising efforts, said Feeding Statesboro fills an important role since it’s important to reach out to neighbors during these tough times.
“I think that we have a definite need here in town,” Beblowski said. “With the economic crisis, there are so many people out of work and looking for assistance. It’s good for us to help the people here locally.”
Murray said her organization is seeking to create alliances with other local efforts such as the Statesboro Food Bank, the Son’s Light Church food bank, the First Methodist Church Saturday soup kitchen and the First African Baptist Church lunch effort, among others. She is also talking with GSU students about organizing a conference where area agencies can meet, share information and collaborate on projects.
Once the Tuesday soup kitchen is established, Feeding Statesboro hopes to expand its services to provide lunch additional days during the week. Eventually, they hope to open up a local restaurant based loosely on the philosophy and practices of One World Café in Utah – where people pay what they can for a meal and those who cannot pay eat for free with dignity.
Feeding Statesboro is currently apply for grants to fund the café and is looking for donors as well.
The owners of the One World Café provide volunteer options for people to earn vouchers to eat at the restaurant. Additionally, there is always a complimentary staple dish that everyone can eat regardless of means.
Murray said Tuesday’s soup kitchen is the first step toward the dream of such a community cafe - a place where everyone is welcome to break bread together.