Everyone is welcome at Anadarko's soup kitchen


Monday, October 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


ANADARKO, Okla. (AP) -- "I'd like to work myself out of this job," said Eric Feuerborn. "Don't misunderstand, I'm not talking about my work as director of the Christian Center. What I'm referring to is the Soup Kitchen."

"I wish there were no hungry people in this town. But the fact remains, there are enough needy folks that we're expanding our meals to five days a week."

For the past several months, the Soup Kitchen has served three meals a week. Monday's lunch is provided by First Baptist Church.

Wednesday evening, First Methodist Church takes their turn. Grace Christian Fellowship produces Friday's lunch.

Recently Squaretop Baptist started working together with Virginia Avenue Baptist to provide Tuesday's noon meal and Gospel Treasure House started serving an evening meal.

"This will give hungry folks five chances a week to have a good solid meal," Feuerborn said. "At the first of the month, we may not have very many folks come in. But by the end of the month, we're apt to have more than 60 people show up at each meal."

"I guess that sometime they can't make their food budget stretch for the whole month. Salaries are tight, and things like rent, utilities and medicines are terribly high," he said.

"As it is, we see a great variety. There might be some of the street people, older citizens, families and even children coming by themselves. The need is universal; after all, anyone can come up short sometime."

"It's really great to see how the local churches have taken over this project," he said. "They do all the work, from cooking to serving to clearing up afterward.

"I have the central location, but I don't have a congregation.

And the churches have the congregations with no central location to work out of. So this project combines all our abilities.

"Another great thing is how the servers treat their visitors with such love and respect. We've gotten acquainted with many of them over the past few months. So now when they come in, we can continue to develop a real personal relationship with them.

"Some of the church groups offer a short devotional message, some don't. It's entirely up to them. Some folks prefer to go one-on-one with our visitors, taking a personal interest in that individual.

"And that helps our visitors, too, to feel comfortable.

Sometimes they're halfway afraid to go into a regular church because they're not dressed right. But when they come here, they're made welcome immediately."

Feuerborn went on to talk about the meals that are served. He joked about the name 'Soup Kitchen.'

"We call it that because everyone knows what a soup kitchen is.

But they won't find soup here. Instead, they'll probably have chops, meat loaf or fried chicken. And our crews make sure to offer a well-balanced meal as well."

Besides the actual Soup Kitchen, the Christian Center also offers food packages. Folks can buy shares in the Heartland SHARE program. This involves a $14 charge, plus tax, plus two hours of volunteer service, for each share.

Folks on food stamps do not pay sales tax. They are charged the basic $14 fee with two hours service and a $1 transportation charge per share bought. Shares are bought near the first of the month, then are delivered toward the end of that month.

The Heartland SHARE group is based in Topeka, Kan.

"When all the individual shares are turned in, they go out and buy the food to fill them with. This isn't donated or damaged or out-of-date food either. It's bought right off the shelves. But buying in the bulk as they do gives them a better price on supplies," Feuerborn said.

Sometimes they have received supplies from Feed the Children.

Once they got a large box of rice cereal -- a 5-foot-square by 4-foot-high box of cereal. They had rice cereal treats for a long time.

Other times they take a huge box of something like that and repackage it into small bags.

Feuerborn has a whole list of dreams and wishes.

"First off, I'd like to have someone to teach our visitors how to budget their money. Too many of them use it all up at the first of the month and then they're hurting. But it would take a special person to teach a session like that.

"I'd like to have a separate building just for this Soup Kitchen. Then we could provide more meals than just one a day. That would probably mean some paid staff. A dining room, freezer space and more refrigerator space would be on my list. And then of course, the funds to pay the electric bill would be vital.

"You know during the summer the school kids go to East Grade or Sunset for breakfast. Then they come here for our morning program and go back to the schools for lunch. That gives them two decent meals a day, when otherwise they might not have anything. It's a shame that in this great country that anyone could go hungry," he said.