Soup kitchens have ‘hiccups’

The Columbus Dispatch


One evening years ago, Jewel McCoy was preparing to serve dinner at the Faith Mission when a hunter dropped a deer at the door.

“He put it right on the dock — horns and all,” said McCoy, the food-service manager at the time and a cook at the shelter since last year.

With no way to process the animal, she couldn’t use the donation — but she graciously accepted it nonetheless.

“We don’t turn anything away,” she said. “I wanted to make him feel good about coming to donate to us.”

The sentiment is familiar among the dozens of shelters and soup kitchens that serve the poor and hungry in Columbus: All donations are welcome.

On a daily basis, the core philosophy makes for some interesting scenarios for the kitchen crews:

A man at the door of the Open Shelter has four shopping bags of fresh tomatoes to give.

A supermarket ships 6,000 soon-to-expire sandwich buns to the Faith Mission.

A wedding is canceled, and a banquet hall donates 500 fancy meals to the Community Kitchen.

The unexpected extras sometimes leave shelter cooks and volunteers to cobble together dishes and meals almost on the fly.

“Nothing ever runs perfectly; you have your hiccups,” said Geoff Rife, an employee at the Community Kitchen, 640 S. Ohio Ave. “But we figure something out pretty quick.”

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