Soup to Nuts, a volunteer-based soup kitchen in Freeport, has been awarded a $4,140 grant by Long Island Cares to help it continue meeting the nutritional needs of the community.
The organization has operated for over 30 years and is housed in Christ Lutheran Church at 61 North Grove St. Though it is under the roof of the church, it is an independent organization that rents space from the church. The kitchen has belonged to the Interfaith Nutrition Network since 1987, and joined Long Island Cares in 1992.
Soup to Nuts has served to-go meals three times a week since the pandemic.
Long Island Cares is a non-profit organization that focuses on reducing food insecurity on Long Island, and as part of its mission, it provides grants to its partner agencies, including Soup to Nuts.
As a partner agency of Long Island Cares, Soup to Nuts was awarded a grant called HPNAP Operations Support to offset the high cost of disposable items for to-go meals. HPNAP stands for Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program. It is a state and federally funded program in New York state that aims to improve the quality of food distributed to emergency food relief organizations such as food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters, which in turn provide meals to those in need.
The grant from Long Island Cares will help supply Soup to Nuts with disposable items to help continue to serve the Freeport community.
“This is all part of the whole mission to help eliminate hunger here on Long Island,” Vice President for Network Relations Kristine Lehn said. “We’re all working together towards that shared mission.”
Disposable items such as paper towels, plates, and utensils are essential for soup kitchens because they help to maintain cleanliness and hygiene standards, and they make it easier to serve food to large numbers of people quickly and efficiently. In addition, disposable items eliminate the need for washing and sanitizing reusable
“What they do for us is unbelievable and we all appreciate what they’ve given us,” Volunteer Mela Massaro said. “It allows us to stay afloat and keep going and buy more supplies that we need.”
This grant has enabled Soup to Nuts to continue serving hot meals to nearly 150 people on some days without incurring excessive costs. The soup kitchen, which opened nearly three decades ago, serves more than 1,000 people each month by offering hot lunches “to go” on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. They serve a balanced hot meal consisting of a protein, a starch, and a vegetable, along with a beverage, a snack, and fruit.
“So far, we’ve never had to turn anyone away,” Massaro said. “There are times we actually run out of the hot meals, but the volunteers are amazing, and they step up to the plate they run downstairs and they start making sandwiches for the guests. We don’t let anybody go away hungry.”
Marian Hart, treasurer of Soup to Nuts, expressed gratitude for the grant, noting that it provided the soup kitchen with a safety net during uncertain times.
“This grant has been a big help for the soup kitchen because our biggest expense is rent and utilities and waste disposal, but next to that the biggest expense we have is disposable supplies for the meals we serve,” Hart said.
The organization also provides any additional donated items that may be beneficial to their clients such as masks or hand sanitizers and has a section for clothing donations. In the past they used to let visitors come indoors and sit in the dining room to enjoy their meals, but due to the pandemic, they now give out hot meals to go.
“It’s a great operation at Soup to Kitchen,” Lehn said. “They treat everyone with the utmost respect, and they consider themselves a program that serves meals that serve the soul.”