Vickie Traynum, director of the Mooresville Soup Kitchen, starts each day with an energetic “Good morning everyone,” as the doors open at 7 a.m. and breakfast is served 8-9 a.m. Monday through Friday every week.
Traynum was wearing miniature bow earrings and an elf hat as she greeted guests July 22 during the kitchen’s monthlong Christmas in July celebration.
There are no restrictions or requirements for the guests that the kitchen serves. “Because we don’t receive government funding, it creates a family atmosphere,” said Traynum. “People take care of each other and carry each other’s burdens. We do consider ourselves family. We’re not an agency, we are a family,” she said.
Founded in 1987, with the goal of providing nourishing meals, fellowship and encouragement for those in need, the kitchen moved to its current location – 275 S. Broad St. – in 2008. The kitchen serves 200 meals a day, with lunch being served weekdays 11 a.m.-noon.
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LaMarcus Evans was eating a hot lunch with his mother, Melissa Byrd, and nephew Emmanuel Boyce, 3, before taking part in the celebration. “This place has been a great help to me,” said Evans. “I lost a lot of weight and was always hungry before I started coming here. I eat breakfast and lunch here every day, and I have gained my weight back,” he said.
The kitchen also helps their guests connect with other services that they may need from the community. The shelter helped Evans get in touch with Fifth Street Ministries, which helped him secure housing by supplying the first month’s rent and the electricity deposit.
“I don’t know what I’d do without this place,” said Evans.
After their meal, each guest was treated to their choice of two household items for gifts as part of the Christmas in July festivities. Each person was given a bouquet of flowers, if they wanted one, as well as bread and canned goods to take home.
“We do this all year-round to keep the energy going,” said Traynum. The food items to take home vary depending on what has been donated that week or even that day. On July 22, a truck from Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina pulled up beside the building with $5,000 worth of food that was provided by a grant from Costco.
Second Harvest allowed the Soup Kitchen to pick out the items that were most needed to fill the six pallets delivered that Tuesday. Traynum said that the kitchen is funded by area churches, corporate partners and individual contributions.
About 30 volunteer cook teams are available to prepare the breakfasts and hot lunches served daily at the kitchen, but Traynum said she could use more volunteers for the afternoon cook teams from 1-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.
On those days the kitchen, as part of their community feeding program, prepares approximately 1,000 frozen meals a week to be distributed to veterans, elderly and working families in need.
“We are a community kitchen because we are all about the community and very little about soup,” said Traynum, pointing out that they only serve soup on cold days.
“There are too few places in this world where everyone is welcome. We are one of those places, and we celebrate that,” said Traynum. “Hopefully there will come a time when they don’t need to be here and that they are able to move on to the next phase. We want to be able to help them get there,” she said.
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mooresville Soup Kitchen
The Soup Kitchen serves hot breakfast 8- 9 a.m. Monday and continental breakfast 8-9:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday. It serves hot lunches 11 a.m.-noon Monday through Friday. The kitchen's community feeding program provided 39,652 meals since 2013. It receives 126,000 pounds of food per month and provided more than 150,000 meals in 2014.
For information on Fifth Street Ministries, http://www.fifthstreetministries.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Fifth-Street-Ministries/152049251877.