Community members can once again enjoy a hot meal every Thursday thanks to the volunteers at St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen in Skowhegan.
“The soup kitchen is resuming because there is a need in the community, and most of the crew are more than ready to see our guests and meet the need,” said Nora Natale, office manager at Christ the King Parish.
“There is a definite need in this area,” agreed Aldea LeBlanc, coordinator of the soup kitchen. “None of us wanted to close during the pandemic, but it was mandated.”
After shutting down in March due to COVID-19, the soup kitchen began serving meals again on June 4, although with some precautionary measures in place. Volunteers wear masks and practice social distancing, while diners are no longer allowed in the hall of Notre Dame de Lourdes Church, where they used to gather. Instead, the meals are served in a drive-thru format in the parking lot of the church, with recipients remaining in their cars.
While the delivery method has changed, what hasn’t is the appeal of the meals. Macaroni and cheese was on the menu the first week, followed by pork chops the next. Those who drive through on June 18 will be treated to barbecue chicken legs, served with potato salad and corn.
“We will continue to do full meals on Thursdays. We also provide a vegetable and fruit of some kind, as well as donated desserts and bread,” said Aldea. “The meals are served from 4:30 to 5 p.m. ,to anyone who pulls up.”
The soup kitchen is entirely volunteer run, and while not all have immediately felt comfortable returning, those like Aldea plan to be there to cook, serve, and welcome guests with warm smiles, even if they are hidden behind masks.
“I plan to stay on volunteering for the foreseeable future,” she said.
St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen was first established in 1991, then shut down in 2017 while the parish sought funding and someone to lead it. Aldea stepped forward, along with Steve Watrous, and the kitchen began serving meals again in November 2018. Patrons not only come from Skowhegan but from surrounding communities such as Athens, Bingham, and Canaan.
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