These last two years have been busy at Temple Education Ministries (H.O.P.E. SoupKitchen). We have continued our mission despite the pandemic. During this time, we followed the science–social distancing guidelines from the CDC and nutritional advice from WHO; modified our service model to reflect changing guidelines and increased need, and stuck to our roots in the faith community.
We have tried to walk in God’s will during the recent COVID-19 crises and serve those who are less fortunate. While we were not able to preach or have a planned ministry while serving at our soup kitchen, we were able to model a life of service to others that honor our LORD, Jesus Christ. During the COVID-19 crisis, our participant’s health and safety were our primary concern.
In 2021, 14.5% of Spartanburg County residents were considered food insecure. AtH.O.P.E. Soup Kitchen, we serve the frail food-insecure population in Northern
Spartanburg County. Eighty-one percent of our participants are over 60; 56% are
minorities; 78% are female; 33% are on Medicaid and SNAP, and 46% of those over 60 live alone. Most of our participants are retired and live on minimal social security payments of about $886 per month. In a 2018 survey, we determined that 6% had kidney disease, 31% had chronic lung disease, 31% had diabetes and 53% had some form of chronic heart disease.
The demographics and health status of our participants made them extremely vulnerable to complications and death due to the COVID-19 virus.
H.O.P.E. Soup kitchen is a state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen physically located in the Life Center of Greater Saint James Temple. It is staffed by a committed, loyal volunteer staff. COVID-19 has changed our service model from one that stresses socialization and community to one that limits physical contact and stresses social distancing with the use of PPE. Our congregation prayed, we responded to prayer requests, we asked for favor for our participants and we anointed the doors to theSoup Kitchen.
We were blessed to receive grants that allowed us to increase our ability to provide take-home food, hygiene supplies, and PPE to our participants from
Spartanburg County Foundation, Circle 555, Spartanburg Regional Foundation, Broad River Charities Round-Up, and South Carolina Cares.
During COVID-19 we were able to increase our service by 187%. By providing a safe, anointed area for participants to obtain needed food, hygiene supplies (wipes, wipes, sanitizer) we were able to help our participants limit the spread of COVID-19. Our results were astounding. We had 4 cases of COVID-19 with one death in a frail, at-risk population. During this time, there were 42,074 cases of COVID-19 and 832deaths in Spartanburg County due to COVID-19.