In the city of Santa Cruz, there is an estimated number of 400 people who sleep outside. One of the major problems they face is hunger and malnutrition. For over the past 25 years, St. Francis Soup Kitchen has been serving meals to the needy in Santa Cruz in order to help combat this issue. Program Director, Richard Crowe, became involved with St. Francis 10 years ago, when he experienced a calling to work with and to serve the poorest of the poor.
Upon stepping into St. Francis Soup Kitchen, one immediately senses a strong familial connection. “While our mission is to serve the poorest of the poor”, says Crowe, “anyone is welcome here; all that is required is an appetite.”
During our visit to St. Francis, we were invited to sit down and have lunch with the volunteers. Every day the volunteers take the time to sit and eat with each other before they serve their clients. This is a tradition St. Francis follows to create a strong connection within the group, as well as to thank their volunteers. In this moment, we had a chance to speak with Paige and learn about her amazing abilities to create nutritious and filling meals with the little resources available. Each meal consists of soup, salad, bread, fruit, and milk. “We are able to provide healthy and filling meals due to the partnership that we have with SHFB. 90% of the produce and 60% of all food that we serve comes from the food bank.”
Crowe recognizes the work of the dozens of volunteers who come in each morning to help serve over 180 people each day . “We have 100 volunteers that come in every day and they are all long-term volunteers. It is a major role that they play to fulfill the mission of St. Francis.”
The Kitchen follows the 1,000 year old tradition of the Benedictine Order– when someone knocks at your door, you should treat them as if Christ were standing there. Other services that St. Francis provides include showers, which are available daily from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and clothing distribution on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.