Aware of the growing homeless “camp” in Shelbyville, the Bedford
County Ministerial Association made a pledge for a six week trial run of a Soup Kitchen which would run during Lent 2016. We would evaluate the response and need before deciding how to proceed.
Starting with only 12 guests on the first evening—a rainy, cold night in February, we quickly grew to feeding 40 folks each Tuesday during those first weeks. The Ministerial Association wanted to continue the ministry. Shelbyville First United Methodist Church is the closest site to the homeless camp by the river, making it the logical “home” for the soup kitchen.
Perhaps most interesting of this ministry is how the guests have created a sense of community. They see the Tuesday meal as their congregation, their family, their home. For many it may be the only hot meal they get for a week. For some it is the only time they can wash their hands and use a restroom. For others it is a chance to save a little bit on their food stamps.
By June 2017, a Board of Governors was formed and charitable status confirmed. Volunteers from area churches, Wal-Mart, Cooper Steel, Sam’s Club, and Tyson sign-up to cook and serve each Tuesday evening. Doors open to guest at 4:00 p.m. and meals are served
until 5:30 p.m. As of December 2018, an average of nearly 130 people are being served each week.
Funds from individuals and local congregations sustain the weekly ministry. As stewards of these gifts, the Board of Governors seeks to provide the best food possible through the most cost effective means. Despite the name “soup kitchen” meals include hot casseroles, ham,
meatloaf, grilled chicken, and other dishes appropriate for the time of year.
Ron Obenauf, President
Mark Barnes, Vice President
Barbara Pate, Treasurer
Connie Boutwell, Secretary