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Soup Kitchen opens in response to community need

A soup kitchen is opening in Humboldt. Starting last week, every Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A soup kitchen is opening in Humboldt.
Starting last week, every Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., those in need of a good meal are invited to come down to the Humboldt Seniors' Hall to enjoy a bowl of soup or stew "and some good company" free of charge.
There is a need for a soup kitchen in this region, and organizers were hoping for a turnout of between 25 and 30 people for its first supper on June 30.
"We'd like to feed everyone (who is hungry)," said organizer James Folster before the supper. "But even if we feed just one person, we did something."
Folster has seen the need for a local soup kitchen, and decided it was high time he did something about it.
"I'd been toying with the idea for just about two years already," he told the Journal last week. Finally, he decided it was time for action.
"I'd talked about it long enough," he said. "It was time to do it."
Folster has been running an Adult Friendship Group out of the Family Services, Partners Building Hope (Partners) office for a few years now. He first saw the need for a local soup kitchen through his work with that group and through other connections with people and community organizations.
The Humboldt Food Bank, he said, is one organization that is getting busier and busier all the time, showing that not everyone can afford enough food to feed their households.
"They are doing a great job," Folster said of the food bank. This new soup kitchen is meant "just to complement" what they are doing.
Pam Lemky of Partners has also seen the need for a local soup kitchen.
"With the intakes we do, it's definitely been identified as a need in the community," she said of food security - defined as simply the ability of a person to secure food for themselves. "We see a lot of hungry people coming to Partners," she added.
The Humboldt Food Bank, she noted, does an amazing job helping hungry people, but people can only go there once a month. The volunteers there have helped with emergency situations, providing food after hours, but they are limited in what they can do, she noted.
"There are hungry people in Humboldt," she stated. "How do you learn when you're hungry? How do you work (to provide for your family) when you're hungry?" she asked.
It's not just single people in need of healthy meals, she added. It's youth, single parent and other types of families.
"The need for food security is tremendous," Lemky noted.
Partners has been working on local food security issues ever since they were involved with a community Christmas meal served on December 25 last year. And there is a lot of collaboration going on in the community between different groups like Partners, the Collective Kitchen, and the Food Bank on the issue as well.
Partners was thrilled, Lemky said, to throw their support behind Folster in this endeavour, as have other groups, who plan to be involved.
"There is a lot of excitement about it in the community and a lot of community stakeholders see the need for it and are willing to be supportive," she said.
There will be no charge for any of the meals at the soup kitchen, which will be "easy to prepare, good, wholesome food," Folster promised.
"I'm hoping we can get children and families - anyone who is interested," Folster said when asked who they were hoping to serve. "It'd be great to see whole families and children coming to get fed.... and they can sit as long as they like and visit," he added.
He doesn't want to label anyone, he noted, and knows that there is a stigma attached to needing assistance, but there are so many in need, he hopes people access the kitchen so that it continues.
Folster plans to offer meals on Thursday nights from now until forever. And if those suppers go well, he's hoping to offer a meal on Saturdays at lunch as well.
"It would be beautiful to see this every day. That would be my dream," Folster said.
What he would really like to see, he noted, is a place where people could be fed, come for coffee, and even stay the night if they need to - a real shelter for those in need.
Partners is working on making a shelter in Humboldt a reality.
"There are homeless and hungry people. They are here. But you won't be able to tell, because they don't look it," Lemky said. "They can walk right by people and they won't realize that (that person) has not eaten for days.... or is sleeping in a ball dugout or anywhere they can."
It's older people, youth, the middle aged - all age ranges have found themselves with nowhere in Humboldt to go and/or nothing to eat.
There's no age limit or restriction for hunger or homelessness, Lemky said.
For now, Folster has arranged for about five volunteers to cook and serve the meals on Thursday nights, and the Humboldt Senior Citizens' Club has kindly donated the use of the hall.
People have just jumped on board to help Folster, and this project of his isn't even common knowledge yet.
Humboldt is like that, he believes. Once people here know about a cause, they jump in to help.
"I don't think a project like this would be easy to get off the ground without the community stakeholders willing to participate in some way," said Lemky.
The Humboldt Soup Kitchen will be looking for other volunteers and donations as time goes on. Local businesses have been contacted, and some have already come on board.
Individuals can help as well, though, Folster noted. They will accept garden produce people are willing to donate, as well as any other perishable items.
The perishables left over from making the meals will be distributed to families in need, it was added.
"As this community is growing, so are the issues," Lemky noted, "If we can be proactive rather than reactive, I think is the key."