About JOY Soup Kitchen
Our primary focus is to deal with food insecurity by providing meals to the poor and homeless in the community. We are the only place in Greenville that prepares and serves free, nutritious, hot midday & evening meals to address this essential need. Our patrons represent a demographic with increased vulnerability to COVID-19 on the basis of their race, age, and ethnicity and underlying health conditions. For some, this may be their only meal of the day.
Why We are Successful
We are currently serving over 3,900 meals per month to individuals and families with children, many of whom have been affected by the economic downturn. Serving 32,752 meals during 2020, there was a 58% increase in meals served in the second half year vs the first 6 months & we expect to serve over 40,000 meals in 2021, which is a 22% increase. As a result of social distancing requirements during the pandemic, we have pivoted to takeout meals, which has resulted in cost increases for serving materials and bottled drinks.
Our goal remains to continue serving meals to the vulnerable population in west Greenville, but also to assure the safety of our staff, patrons, and volunteers. We have gradually started to re-engage with volunteers from a few church groups that are assisting with the preparation and distribution of takeout meals.
During the Pandemic
Because of the logistics of preparing takeout meals and because of COVID-19 restrictions, we discontinued evening meals in March 2020, until we could develop a new takeout workflow and get enough staff &/or volunteers to manage 8 meals per week.
While serving an average of 100 – 150 daily meals, we are also facing cost escalation due to demand for takeout meals in the restaurant industry: cardboard soup bowls with lids have increased from less than $30/case to over $80/case and three compartment trays with folding tops have increased over 200% in cost.
There are no criteria for eligibility, and we provide meals to all who come to the JOY Community Building.
Community Engagement & Outreach
We continue to be overwhelmed by the level of need, as well as the generosity of our
community. This past year we’ve partnered with over a dozen local restaurants that
want to take a day to prepare and serve food. One of the restaurants pulls his cooker
into our parking lot every few weeks and spends the day broiling 20 briskets or 120
quarter chickens. Now we’ve started to add enough extra food (50 suppers last week)
to provide for the shift of the sheriff’s patrol, detention center, &/or police or a fire
station that’s on duty: recently serving 208 meals, including 50 for law enforcement
personnel and first responders.