RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Forty years ago, six people and 27 sandwiches brought a bit of love to those in need. Today, The Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen continues to carry the community in Raleigh.
For the past twelve years, they’ve been located in the basement of the Church of the Good Shepherd in downtown Raleigh.
Every Monday through Friday, they serve lunch to any and all who come to their door. On average, they serve around 200 guests per day.
“We make sure everybody gets a great lunch, a hot nutritious lunch and a snack pack for later. And then we just collaborate and work as a family and get it done each day from 11 to 12,” Executive Director Tamara Gregory said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, The Shepherd’s Soup Kitchen was able to revamp its lunch distribution methods and only had to close for one day.
The restaurant has a family of about 4,000 volunteers, but COVID-19 caused it to cut back its numbers to five or six volunteers per day.
Though its volunteer group may be smaller, Gregory said the mission remains the same.
“What we see every day isn’t always pretty, but what we do is beautiful. We carry this community and the folks that need us the most right now,” he said. “We even have a drive-up area for those with families. We’re seeing a lot of families come through. And we just try and let them know with a smile there’s never a question asked. Anyone and everyone is welcome to dine with us. So we just welcome them.”
For the past year or two, Marco Rodriguez has been a dedicated volunteer at The Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen. He said that they are here to help for the long haul and that it’s all about giving back to your fellow neighbor.
“It’s about giving back to the community. Food insecurity nowadays is greater because of COVID,” Rodriguez said. “I think seeing people getting their meals, knowing that the food insecurity is gone for that particular meal. For them to get the food, that’s the most rewarding.”
Each meal provided by The Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen brings more than nutrition, it brings hope, the restaurant said.
“I like to think that we are providing community too. Those folks that come, they know that they’re not alone, they’re not the only ones struggling. It eases one burden off their plate for the day,” Gregory said. “We make sure that every day they get a nutritious meal and then a snack pack to take with them for later in the evening.”
It doesn’t have to be Christmas for us to give. Helping out those around us is always in season, he added.
“Just get out and do anything you can,” he said. “You can have a food drive, you can give coats to people on the corner. You can do just about anything if you’re in the giving mood.”
Just like so many organizations, the pandemic has brought financial hardship.
The Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen does not receive state or government funding. Although they aren’t accepting new volunteers right now, you can directly help the cause.
“We say if people want to be kind and help us right now, the best gift they can give us is financial because our needs change daily,” Gregory said. “That allows us to put that money right where we need it and go and buy in bulk in things that we need to get through the week.”
You can also have a food drive and bring canned items.
They ask for nonperishable items that are not expired. Now that they’ve transitioned from eating inside to meals on the go, you can also donate items like plasticware, cleaning supplies, bottled water and more.
To learn more about The Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen and how you can get involved, head to www.shepherds-table.org.