Fulton Soup Kitchen sees need more than triple in two years

On track for same number of meals for 2013, private and group donations keep pantry stocked

Julie Murphy and Nick Russell of Southside Baptist Church prepare to hand out burgers and dogs at the Fulton Soup Kitchen Thursday. About 200 volunteers like them gave out more than 13,000 meals in 2012, up exponentially from just two years before.

Julie Murphy and Nick Russell of Southside Baptist Church prepare to hand out burgers and dogs at the Fulton Soup Kitchen Thursday. About 200 volunteers like them gave out more than 13,000 meals in 2012, up exponentially from just two years before. Photo by Dean Asher.

Their dining room is open only one hour a day, four days a week, but the Fulton Soup Kitchen might be the most popular eatery in Callaway County.

Last year, the kitchen saw its attendance rise to serve about three and a half times the number of meals it gave out in 2010. The kitchen served 13,000 meals in 2012, compared to about 3,700 two years before.

Taking out the approximately 1,200 meals served at special events including last year’s Back to School Fair, that means the kitchen’s 200 rotating volunteers served about 57 people from 5-6 p.m. every Monday through Thursday at the John C. Harris Community Center.

“I think it wind up being more (this year),” Soup Kitchen President Anne Erbschloe said. “They say the economy is getting better, and maybe for some people it is, but some of these people are already in a middle income bracket and not the people that are poor, and I don’t think it’s getting better for them.”

Erbschloe noted not all is bleak, however. The Soup Kitchen still has plenty of food to feed all of those mouths: It operates on donations received from private individuals and business such as Arris Pizza, as well as organizations Including the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri and Fresh Ideas Food Service, which provides food for Westminster College.

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