GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The line starts to wrap the building well before the doors open each day at 12:30 p.m. The need is evident in the faces who fill God’s Kitchen; a seat, a smile and a warm meal.
“People are hungry,” said Jeff Hoyh, the program manager at God’s Kitchen. “This is their first and last meal of the day, so we want to make sure they are taken care of.”
The meals are completely free, every day, no strings attached and no questions asked.
“We have low-income, underemployed families. We have mothers that come in when their kids are in school. They come down here so it’s not taking away from their children’s meals at night,” Hoyh described the need beyond just the homeless. “You see construction workers, college students, anyone in need. We do not ask you questions when you walk in the door. We don’t ask for an ID or scan card. If you need a meal, come get one.”
Of course, there is a cost attached to each meal. Hoyh says it comes out to about $2 a day, but that never falls on those in need because of the giving philanthropic community across West Michigan.
The Soup’s On for All event at the B.O.B. each year raises funds to help provide those meals. The event is thrown by the Catholic Charities of West Michigan. Chefs from all over West Michigan bring in soups in a strolling style meal.
The money brought in can practically cover a year’s worth of food, according to Hoyh. Last year, Soup’s On for All raised over $100,000 — all the money is put right into the God’s Kitchen mission.
“It takes about 200-330 pounds of food a day to feed a crowd that comes into God’s Kitchen,” Hoyh says about stretching the dollar through finding food at Feeding America West Michigan. “If you kind of do the math, being able to go there is a fantastic resource.”
When the doors close each day at 2 p.m., between 250 and 350 mouths will be fed and souls will be filled Hoyh says.
In a year, serving each day, including holidays, God’s Kitchen in Grand Rapids will serve up more than 150,000 free meals. Made possible because the Soup’s On for All event, the countless volunteers and the daily service of making sure a community doesn’t go without a meal.
“It’s easy to walk out of here every day happy knowing that you made a difference that day, that is every day,” Hoyh said.
Soup’s On for All starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday at The Bob in downtown Grand Rapids. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door.