Joan Etty serves up a steaming bowl of soup at the Campbell River United Church’s soup kitchen. Members of the church’s outreach program volunteer their team every Saturday to feed the hungry out of the Radian Life Church on Cypress Street.

Soup kitchen has come a long way from its humble beginnings

Dorothy Swift has a standing date with the less fortunate in the community every Saturday afternoon.

Dorothy Swift has a standing date with the less fortunate in the community every Saturday afternoon.

Since 2002 Swift, along with an army of volunteers, has been feeding the hungry when there’s no place else for them to go for food.

A group of 23 from the Campbell River United Church’s outreach program volunteers its time prepping, cooking and serving food every Saturday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. out of the Radiant Life Church.

“Anyone who comes into the soup kitchen, we’ll feed them,” Swift says.

“It’s directed at the ones who can’t afford to eat anywhere else.”

Visitors to the soup kitchen can get a hearty bowl of soup, fresh sandwiches and salads, as well as casseroles, spaghetti, and chili, depending on the day.

They will also be provided with a sandwich, apple or orange to get them through Sunday.

Next month, the outreach program celebrates the soup kitchen’s tenth anniversary.

Swift is one of the four original volunteers. Ten years ago the minister of the United Church heard there was nowhere for the hungry to go for a meal on the weekends.

“People that were hungry could get food five days a week at the Salvation Army but there was nothing for them on the weekends so we decided we could step in.

The minister at the time made inquiries to the congregation at the United Church and the Anglican church and asked if there was anyone interested in setting something up,” Swift says.

“In April 2002 we set up in the old Overwaitea, where Home Hardware is now, and we set up with tents, oil and campstoves.”

Swift said the volunteers fed between 30 and 40 people at the time, whereas now the soup kitchen typically serves between 80 and 90 people.

The soup kitchen operates out of the Radian Life church, where it’s been based for the last four years.

After moving from the original Overwaitea location, the soup kitchen was headquartered at the Salvation Army Lighthouse Centre on Cedar Street before being displaced and taken in by Radiant Life.

The small church on Cypress Street is the perfect location, as the volunteers are able to take advantage of the community garden, planted behind Coast Realty.

The soup kitchen also relies on service clubs such as the Eagles, and the Royal Canadian Legion. The group also collects bottles to purchase week to week food.

The soup kitchen also benefits from a group of women from the Mormon church who has provided cookies for the soup kitchen every week, since the very beginning.

“It truly is a community effort,” she says.