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Soup Kitchen fills weekend food gap for area homeless

When Soup Kitchen president Anne Erbschloe recently learned that Callaway County’s homeless have no resources for food over the weekends she was appalled, and immediately took steps to rectify the situation.

“I don’t know why, but it had just never occurred to me they didn’t have food on the weekends,” Erbschloe said. “These homeless people that are staying (at Wiley House, the overnight shelter in Fulton) ... on the weekend we found out they don’t have anything, and we can’t have that.”

Once she realized it was an issue — after a local homeless man staying at Wiley House pointed out to The Fulton Sun that there was nowhere for him to get food on weekends, and he had no money to buy any, and Erbschloe’s daughter called to tell her “we have to do something” — the 15-year- Soup Kitchen veteran set about making sure it did not happen again.

For several weeks now, Erbschloe and fellow Soup Kitchen volunteers have been putting together sack meals consisting of sandwiches, fruit, chips and dessert, and a couple of gallons of milk to take to Wiley House on Fridays.

“They have capacity for 17 people, so we’ve been taking over 51 sack meals,” she said, noting she visited the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri on Monday and purchased soup to supplement the sandwiches. “I don’t think in this country, with all the resources we have, there should be people that are hungry.

“The thought of anyone going hungry makes me sick.”

Erbschloe already has lined up two different groups to help provide the weekend coverage. Starting in December, First Christian Church in Fulton will be handling the first and third weekends of each month, and William Woods University’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity will be handling the second and fourth weekends. During months in which there are five weekends, Erbschloe said “we’ll see that they get something.”

Sally Williams, who is in charge of First Christian Church’s efforts, said her church got involved after a Soup Kitchen representative spoke about the organization’s cause and need for volunteers during one of their Sunday services.

“Several of us decided we would try to do it one week a month, and then we found there was a more pressing need for meals on weekends,” Williams said. “What we hope is on Friday night it will be a hot meal and come in a crock pot — maybe soup and a sandwich, or chili — and that will be accompanied by 17 sack meals for Saturday and for Sunday.”

Terrell Shannon, community service chair for Pi Kappa Alpha, said his fraternity was more than willing to help the Soup Kitchen with its new weekend outreach program.

Erbschloe said the Soup Kitchen could use donations of items such as individual fruit cups, packages of lunch meat, bread and cheese to help supply the sack meals. She said monetary contributions also would be welcome, both for the Soup Kitchen’s regular program — which provides hot meals from 5-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the John C. Harris Community Center in Fulton — and for the weekend meals for Wiley House.

Any other groups or individuals interested in getting involved should contact Erbschloe at (573) 220-2450.

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