Through a non-formal partnership between Open Door Ministries and the Salvation Army, the soup kitchen, located at the corner of East Broadway Boulevard and South Engineer Avenue, is still open and serving 60 meals a day, five days a week.
After the Salvation Army announced the transition of the Sedalia Corps to a Salvation Army service center effective June 27, many people assumed the soup kitchen was closed indefinitely. The kitchen is open and still located in the former Salvation Army building, located at 1200 E. Broadway Blvd.
“The Salvation Army will remain a presence in Sedalia,” a Salvation Army news release dated June 29 said. “A soup kitchen will remain in operation at the service center along with two staff members, including a case worker and administrative assistant.”
On Wednesday, volunteers Elaine Casey, Jan McDowell and Barbara Reilly were busy in the kitchen while Kathy Price, also a cook, conducted a Bible study for clients in another room.
Casey said Bill Turner, president of Open Door Ministries, began the soup kitchen program several years ago. The kitchen serves lunch from noon to 12:45 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“At the present time, until we get a new facility, we’re going to stay here,” Casey added. “We will be moving eventually.”
“We definitely have to relocate,” Turner said by phone Wednesday. “We’ve been looking for a new home for a months. We’re doing everything we possibly can to not have a break in service.”
Turner noted they have a plan in motion and a proposed place to relocate at a later date. At present, not much stands in the way of keeping the kitchen open each day. They are open when school is closed and even holidays.
“This is all free,” Casey added. “If you have a need and you’re hungry, we encourage you to come. We welcome all.”
The kitchen also works to feed those who have food allergies.
“We have people who have food allergies, we know who they are, and if we are serving something and they can’t have it, we’ll make something else,” she said.
For those with babies, the soup kitchen has three stages of baby food.
“We do have a lot of regulars who do have children,” she said. “People don’t really understand. It’s not that these people are not working, it’s that their husbands may work … at a lower-paying job, with maybe three kids they don’t meet the criteria for state aid. So, they come here to offset their cost of living each month.”
Some older clients come in and eat to offset monthly pension checks.
“Some of these elderly guys they get Social Security, they’re on fixed incomes,” she noted. “So, they’re not like looking for, you know, a hand-out, they are looking for a hand-up.
“We do have homeless people here, we do have drug addicts, we do have people out of prison here,” she added. “But, you know what? There’s also a big majority here because there’s an actual financial need. It helps off-set their monthly budgets.”
McDowell added that some eat at the soup kitchen for not only for the meal, but to socialize.
“It’s more family-oriented, and everybody that walks through that door they do not leave hungry,” Casey said.
The volunteers said people who drop by to eat can also pick up a bag of bread. Panera Bread in Sedalia donates bread each week to the soup kitchen, and the Sedalia Starbucks also donates coffee and tea.
“If they have different desserts, like wafers, they donate those,” Casey added. “It does help us, because we have a lot of coffee drinkers.”
“Some of these ladies want to make sure there’s cakes, and they’ll go home and bake four or five pans,” McDowell added.
On Wednesday, Lonnie DeVorss made cupcakes with decorations for the clients to have with their noon meal.
Price, a volunteer cook on Thursday, conducts a Bible study for clients at 11 a.m. each Wednesday. The other ladies often assist Price with teaching and Casey conducts the class if Price isn’t there.
“We started the Bible study, because there’s really a need,” Casey said. “It gives a lot of our younger people and older people, that go to the Bible study, it gives them hope. This is a Christian organization, and hopefully we can bring them closer to Christ.
“We don’t want people to feel alienated, we don’t judge them,” she added. “God don’t care how they got there, He cares about what we do to help them.”
Casey noted that the soup kitchen welcomes donations of paper products such as plates, bowls, cups and napkins.
“They can donate to the Open Door,” she said.
Besides the soup kitchen, Vivian and Jim Woodall, in conjunction with the First Baptist Church of Sedalia, will host a morning service at the Salvation Army building beginning at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The Woodalls said the services will continue through the end of October.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.