GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — With the excitement of getting to enjoy a hot meal inside, the chairman of the Joy Soup Kitchen said he is hopeful this will help boost people’s spirits.
“It’s great. It’s got AC,” said Jaime Perez.
“It’s a great sign that things are going to get better. People are able to come out. Some of the things we used to do were able to do again,” said Albert Evans.
People in the Pitt County community that the Joy Soup Kitchen serves say it’s a welcome surprise to see the dining room now open again. Tuesday was the first day it was back open again.
“Just for the simple fact of the whole pandemic, we wanted to keep people safe. We ran with a skeleton crew of just three people,” said Tom Quigley, chairman of the kitchen.
Quigley closed the dining room last March, instead of giving people free to-go meals.
“Everyone opened in phases and you were allowed 30%,” Quigley said. “If we’re feeding 120 a day, how do you pick which 30% of those people can come in the dining room? We decided as a board it was going to be all or nothing.”
Now with loosened COVID restrictions, those in need of a hot meal can come inside.
“I’m excited for today,” Quigley said. “I’ve been here three years. It’s been a long 16 months of seeing people stand outside and eat in the parking lot, and I’m very happy to give them the opportunity to come back inside today.”
Quigley hopes to turn the kitchen into a community center, offering more than just meals.
“I want this kitchen to be the beacon of this community,” Quigley said. “I would like health assistance coming in here. I would like people to come and help people with Medicare applications. Help them, guide them, treat them like normal people.”
The kitchen is open for lunch Monday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It also offers takeout dinner Monday-Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.