The Guild of St. Margaret’s Soup Kitchen has been feeding the hungry in Middletown for over thirty years, but a recent expansion of services—particularly the addition of a morning meal on top of their daily lunch service –meant that they needed some upgrades to their kitchen. Over the last several months, with the help of a one-time “capacity-building” grant from Episcopal Charities, the Guild of St. Margaret’s creatively addressed these issues and accomplished additional goals beyond.
Recently blessed with the donation of a commercial dishwasher, the soup kitchen first spent their grant money to pay installation fees and complement the washer with supplies. They had been using paper plates and plastic cutlery for the last thirty years, so the new dishwasher tremendously reduced the kitchen’s waste and environmental impact. It also gave the Guild of St. Margaret’s a chance to hire one of their guests to operate the dishwasher, making money and developing his skills for future employment. It turns out that this new machinery did far more good than just cleaning plates.
The soup kitchen then used another portion of the grant to purchase a hot food table and a cold serving counter, which would streamline their food preparation process and expand their available space. With double the amount of meals to serve, this was a much-needed improvement for both guests and the hundreds of volunteers that cook in the kitchen each year. Finally, after spending the bulk of their grant on these improvements, the Guild of St. Margaret’s staff realized they had a small amount remaining, so they used it to buy a new coffeemaker. Imagine yourself homeless, hungry and on top of that, without coffee to start your day. The soup kitchen’s new coffeemaker definitely made a difference in positive outlook and energy for the people it serves.
This year, the Guild of St. Margaret’s expects to reach 4,460 people—that’s 52,312 meals. These resourceful improvements to their kitchen, while nothing glamorous, play a key role in ensuring that hungry people in Middletown are well-fed, in addition to making the kitchen more efficient, sustainable and environmentally-friendly. It goes to show that simple improvements can make a big difference.
Photo: Phyllis Guardino, Soup Kitchen Director and Diane Logan, Food Service Coordinator with their new dishwasher and dishes.