The Friday Soup Kitchen has now operated continuously for over 40 years. Its mission remains the same, although its numbers have grown enormously. Our goal is to feed our less fortunate neighbors with a hot, nourishing meal, served with dignity and respect for every person.
Starting in 1977 with a program to feed about 25 hungry New Yorkers, we now serve over 300 meals every week, fifty two Fridays every year and over 17,000 meals annually. Under the leadership of Ashley Garrett, who directed the program for nearly 20 years, the Soup Kitchen evolved into the program it remains today. Although change is always occurring, now under the leadership of Carole Weiss and Donna Harrow, the Soup Kitchen still provides a complete, hot and healthy meal, with guests seated restaurant-style at tables for eight. Tables are set with real plates and cutlery, real coffee mugs and juice glasses and there’s always a floral centerpiece. In this friendly, inspirational setting, everyone enjoys the sense of community that a warm meal inspires.
The heart of Friday Soup Kitchen is a wonderfully dedicated group of volunteers who prepare the food, set up the dining room, serve the meal and clean up afterwards. They interact with our guests, developing relationships that can last for many years. Volunteers come from all over – some are members of All Souls, but the vast majority are neighbors who want to help those in need of a place to get a good meal and a friendly smile.
Some of our best volunteers are the smallest! We work with many of the private schools in the area, including Brearley, Allen Stevenson, Hewitt, Nightingale and The Cooke Center. Beginning at about age 9, children from the schools come to set tables and/or serve lunch. They learn about helping others less fortunate, lessons that we hope will last a lifetime. The schools also contribute to FSK by doing food drives for the items that are needed like coffee, juice and granola bars. They also raise money, do sock drives and provide little luxuries like toiletries.
We are very fortunate that we have some corporate sponsors who help make Friday successful. Whole Foods contributes cake, cookies and donuts every week and Orwasher’s Bakery provides us with enough bread every week to supply everyone in the dining room. Our friends at Shawmut Construction have been volunteering with us for years, and now make a substantial annual contribution.
Although we never turn a guest away, budget cuts at many levels have made it more difficult to provide the meals we like to serve. The SNAP (food stamp) program has
already been cut three times in the last four years and if the present Farm Bill in Congress in approved, there will be further cuts in the billions over the next 10 years. To keep us going, we are constantly seeking funding. We get no government support at any level and are dependent on contributions from generous supporters as well as the efforts of All Souls” Heart & Soul Charitable Fund.
Friday Soup Kitchen is in the process of modernizing its communications programs. Launching in third quarter 2018 if a totally new web site. We will also be sending out a monthly newsletter and will be active on Facebook and Instagram.
To see the new website, go to: fridaysoupkitchennyc.org