Helping the hungry
by JAMES PHILLIPS
Jul 24, 2012 | 2794 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jane Walker prepares a plate at Hope Kitchen last week. The soup kitchen, which provides food out of First United Methodist Church of Jasper, gives out free meals each Tuesday and Thursday. - Photo by: James Phillips.
Jane Walker prepares a plate at Hope Kitchen last week. The soup kitchen, which provides food out of First United Methodist Church of Jasper, gives out free meals each Tuesday and Thursday. - Photo by: James Phillips.
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Jasper-area soup kitchens have seen the number of people needing a home-cooked meal rise in recent months.

With three soup kitchens operating in Jasper, there is a place to get a hot meal each weekday.

Jane Walker, of Hope Kitchen, said an average of 30 people come to First United Methodist Church of Jasper each Tuesday and Thursday for the free meal she helps organize.

“We see more people when the weather is worse,” she said. “If it’s really hot, we see a lot of people. There are also a lot of children that come during the summer. We will have our largest numbers during the winter when it’s really cold.”

Walker, who has been the leader of Hope Kitchen for two years, said a group of 10 or so volunteers helps put the meals together.

“It’s not just people from our church (FUMC-Jasper),” she said. “We have people from all over the area that come to help, and we welcome anyone — whether they want to come help out or just come eat.”

Hope Kitchen at First United Methodist is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Walker said a short devotion is given before the meal. She also said getting to know the people who attend each week is the highlight of Hope Kitchen for her.

“Seeing the faces of the people that come here,” she said. “They light up as they start to eat. It’s just a blessing for me. I do my best to show how much I love each person that comes here.”

Jerry Boyd, pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church in west Jasper, said the soup kitchen at his church is a cooperative effort with Jasper’s First Baptist Church. He said the kitchen, which is each Monday at 11 a.m., feeds almost 100 people per week.

“We usually have between 30 and 40 come in for the meal, and then we send out around 60 meals to people who are homebound,” he said. “People here need food, and we are here to provide it. I have made so many wonderful friends over the years by hosting this kitchen.”

Pastor Lindon Frost organizes the Matthew Ministry Outreach, which is a soup kitchen located at 10th Avenue and 19th Street in downtown Jasper. Frost’s soup kitchen meets each Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m.

“Our numbers vary, but we have been seeing more lately,” he said. “We just try to be here and be consistent with this ministry. Our soup kitchen has been operating for 12 years, which makes it the longest running one in Jasper. We’re happy to be here to help.”

Despite being called soup kitchens, Walker said each group provides actual meals.

“We try to have a good meal each week and not just soup,” she said. “From what I know about the other groups, they try to do the same thing. We want to give people something good to eat.”