GREENVILLE, N.C.(WNCT) — “Hunger is not something to be embarrassed of, it’s something that happens, and everybody can be in that situation at the drop of a dime.”
Joy Soup Kitchen has been open for nearly 40 years, opening its current building in 1997. It formed when two local churches decided to come together and join their individual soup kitchens into one. Joy Soup Kitchen is in the heart of Western Greenville, the poorest area in the city.
Kitchen Manager, Thomas Quigley says the pandemic hit them hard, causing them to shut their indoor dining and only serving takeout meals. On average they feed upwards of 250 people each and every day. Quigley tells me, despite closing indoor dining at the height of the pandemic, they served over 27,000 meals in 2020 alone. This year, with only three months left, they’ve already served over 29,000 meals to the community.
Prior to the pandemic, soup kitchen staff say the majority of people they were serving were part of the black community. Since the pandemic, they’ve seen a big change in the people they are serving.
“The pandemic caused a whole demographic shift, because whether people believed in the virus or not, the virus believed in taking everybody, and the numbers changed. The majority-black community that was coming here is now smoothed out. We have the Mexican community, the Chinese community, the White community, and the Black community”, says soup kitchen manager Thomas Quigley. “It doesn’t matter what color you were, hunger caught everybody.”
9OYS visited the kitchen on a Thursday, which is soup and sandwich day. For over 25 years, St. Peters Catholic Church and St. Timothy’s Episcopal has provided meals every single Thursday. St. Timothy’s makes the sandwiches, and 3rd-grade children at St. Peter’s make the soup. Quigley says it’s a point of pride for these students, “the kids get excited every year once they get to 3rd-grade, they’re like ‘We are the soup makers now!'”.
One of Joy’s biggest missions is to not waste any food that someone could use. Instead of throwing food out after a long day, the staff packages up the leftovers for people to take home the next day. Those items are always located outside the front entrance of the building. Those who don’t want to dine in with the kitchen, simply have to walk up to the front door, check out the options on the table outside, and grab-n-go whatever they please.
Joy Soup Kitchen Hours:
- Lunch, Monday – Friday 10:30am to 12:30pm. Dine-in, takeout, and to-go options are available.
- Dinner, Monday – Thursday 5 to 6pm. Only takeout option.
The kitchen is in need of volunteers for lunch on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. And volunteers for each dinner shift Monday through Thursday. The kitchen used to offer dinner on Fridays but due to a lack of volunteers, had to stop.