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Highlands Presbyterian Church Soup Nite Ministry


By Carrie Macaluso


Georgia. Highlands is a rather small, loving congregation of 150 members. So, Jane and I took baby steps. We tossed around the word soup and working with programs that included mothers and their children and that is as far as we got. So, we both prayed about it. Not knowing how to get started, a deacon in our church said that we should contact the local Food CoOp, the Southeast Gwin- nett CoOperative Ministry. The church had been donating food items over there for years, so we gave it a try. We contacted them on a day that the CoOp was supposed to be closed and Laura Drake, the director, picked up the phone! This was definitely a God thing and the seed was planted. Soon after, Laura came to our church to discuss with volunteers what was needed to start this program. The name, Soup Nite, was chosen because at the time, we thought that we would only serve soups but little did we know…. With approval from the church, Soup Nite was launched in September of 2012. Growing Pains immediately followed us. We started out with a team of


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about 15 people at the CoOp’s location serving crock pot soups for the guests waiting to be interviewed to receive their monthly food boxes. It was very important for us to build relationships. People needed to trust us, not only with a healthy meal, but also with being consistent and having a welcoming attitude. We served outside on the CoOp’s picnic tables until it got cold in No- vember. We had always hoped to serve out of the Highlands Fellowship Hall. In December of that same year, we moved serving our meals from the CoOp over to our church. It has a commercial kitchen and the hall seats about 80 people. If guests wanted to sit and eat that would be our capacity, so we start- ed out making enough meals to serve 80 people. We had vouchers and flyers posted and distributed at the CoOp, letting people know where to go, what was being served and when we were serving. The vouchers were brought to us at Highlands with their family name on it and number of meals they needed. The first couple of months our numbers were sparse. Maybe 20 people came to get meals. We got signage to place out in front of church so people know where we are but also to make our neighbors aware of our ministry. We made sure to


ur Beginnings started with a Concept in 2011. My friend, Jane Statham and I were working full time but wanted to do something as a service ministry with our church, Highlands Presbyterian Church, in Grayson,


serve only food that we would serve to our own families. Using the non-profit status of the


church, we partnered with the At- lanta Community Food Bank in May of 2014. It helps with the variety of our menu and it doesn’t tax our volunteers financially who prepare meals. As a partner, we now can buy meats at the Food Bank for 16 cents a pound. We scheduled another Mon- day to Highlands Soup Nite, making it the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month to meet the requirements of the Food Bank. So many blessings followed, as the CoOp was able to get two other community churches to serve hot meals on their premises, the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month. So now, guests are being served a hot meal at least once a week for free! With so much interest in the ministry, making 8 crock pots was easier in the beginning. This was mostly due some to our volunteers dropping off due to various reasons, but we still had a core team of about 6-8 ladies to pre- pare meals and 10 people to serve. We started to get more guests coming to us and we saw the greater need. Our biggest challenge was never know- ing how many guests we would have on any given Soup Nite Monday and


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