The soup kitchen served its first meal on April 15, 1988. For the first month, the kitchen was only able to provide soup and sandwiches. Today it serves a full-course meal for walk-in residents for lunch Monday through Friday from noon to 1 pm. Each lunch consists of soup, salad, rolls, chicken, meat or fish entrée with rice, pasta or potato and vegetables. Desserts are donated by Publix or made by volunteers.
Our Father’s Table Soup Kitchen is open year-round, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. The diners are provided with food to take home on holidays. Usually, each day the soup kitchen serves in-house as many as 50 people per day. In the summertime, more take advantage of the services. The soup kitchen will feed children who are customarily fed through the school program, and as unemployment increases with the loss of seasonal jobs.
Most of the guests are Gifford residents, and typically this meal is their main meal of the day, if not their only meal. Everyone is welcome, regardless of race or creed. To keep track of the number of meals, diners are asked to sign in each day. IDs or eligibility is not checked. Grace is said before meals.
The soup kitchen is in the Mt. Zion AME Church dining room, and although it is not affiliated with the church, it maintains a good relationship with the pastor and membership.
In 2019, we served 31,649 meals between in-house and homebound people.