Historic Meals Program 1980-1992
soup kitchen n (1839): an establishment dispensing minimum dietary essentials (as soup and bread) to the needy
Let me start by saying Pastor Paul's Mission's 'soup kitchen' evolved. It evolved from homemade vegetable beef soup, brought in weekly by a member of the church served with cheese sandwiches, salads and fruit to meals you find in a nice restaurant. Most soup kitchens today feature great food and love to go with it! Maybe we need to do something about the name?
Pastor Paul's Mission Hot Meals Program was simply the best. The best food served in an atmosphere comparable to a nice restaurant. Complete with separate tables for private dining for families or individuals who wanted to dine alone. The tables and chairs were purchased along with all the other equipment from a restaurant equipment wholesale supply. Instead of individual plates compartment trays were used so they could be prepped with bread items, garnishes, napkins and silverware ahead of time. Vases with silk flowers were on all of the tables to start with after the major dining room renovation took place in 1985. Then eventually they were removed because they got in the way. We used them on Senior's Day. But the salt and pepper shakers remained for years until eventually they all mysteriously disappeared two at a time.
The day started by a Hot Breakfast Buffet. It opened at 8:00am and lasted until 9:00am. Equipment was purchased from the restaurant supply to make this renovation similar to a restaurant as shown above with steam tables, bakery racks with trays of prepped foods, sinks and refrigeration on the buffet line and convection ovens and grills in the kitchen. The buffet line started with cereal and milk, Danish rolls and donuts, various refrigerated juices, cartons of milk. In the steam table were breakfast meats, pancakes, scrambled eggs and hash brown potatoes, biscuits and gravy or omelets. Food combinations changed from day to day depending on donated foods available and the numbers of people expected to be served. The Breakfast Buffet line was informal and guests could come up more than once. Wait staff served the food and cleaned tables. The coffee table was set up separately for easy access. It closed at 9:00am sharp because we had to get ready to open the Grocery Shelf at 9:30am.
The Breakfast Meal evolved. It started with a coffee pot and breakfast rolls. Then we added canned fruit in portion cups. Then cereal and milk was added. Because we needed someone to attend to these foods we started to look at equipment to make the job easier. The next thing you know we have a full blown incredible Breakfast Buffet with biscuits and gravy and sausage and scrambled eggs. Just like most things it's one step at a time if you are ready to take the next step. We always took the next step.
When do we eat! Did someone say lunch? In 1985 the Dining Room was renovated. Under a clay colored carpet were beautiful terrazzo floors. The carpeting had to go along with the folding tables with attached stools, and play equipment that consisted of a wooden jungle gym. Instead we would have terrazzo floors, custom made curtains, brass railings, four-top tables with silk flower vases, glass tables on the stage area with mirrors and 36x36 Andy Warhol frames displaying posters of people and places around the world. A hole in the wall had to be made above the stove so food can be delivered to guests by wait staff. A Host station needed to be made to stop guests from sitting before we are ready for them. The dining room was a place for anticipation to enter and dine and share a good meal with children and friends.
Cooking equipment needed to be installed like steam jacketed 40 gallon cookers, convection ovens, commercial dishwasher, 24ft walk-in cooler, bakery trays and racks, compartment trays and pots and pans and bowls and silverware, booster seats and linen.
And then there was food and more food and delicious food. Baked Chicken with Potatoes; Gravy, Broiled Catfish with Rice and Red Beans, Pork Ribs with Sauerkraut, Spaghetti and Handmade Meatballs, Homemade Chili with Hot Dogs and Chips, Homemade Chow Mein, Homemade Macaroni; Cheese and; Grilled Vegetables; BBQ Pork Sandwiches with French Fried Potatoes and on and on. Salads, coleslaws, fresh fruit, dessert items, such as cookies or snack cakes, and bread, pickles and garnishes were incorporated in the meal plan. It was very good.
People still ask, 'Pastor Paul why don't you have them meals anymore...when are you going to have lunch again...those meals were so good.'
Did someone say Soup Kitchen? 'Right this way sir.'