Soup kitchen queues double in a year

Volunteers are serving a growing number of people at St Paul's Soup Kitchen on Friday night.
Volunteers are serving a growing number of people at St Paul's Soup Kitchen on Friday night. Robyne Cuerel

THE number of regulars to the Soup Kitchen in Maryborough has more than doubled this year - and it's not the homeless.

President of the Monday night Soup Kitchen, Allan Vollmerhause, has been involved for the past 20 years and believes the increase of people is mainly due to the economy.

"Rents are going up, it's hitting a lot of families here," he said.

"There's no-one knocked back - if they come through the front door, they'll get a good meal. They won't go away hungry."

A founding member of the Baptist arm of the soup kitchen, which has operated at St Paul's Anglican Church Hall since 2005, Norma Stevens, is astonished at the rate demand is rising.

"When we started if we got 16 people for dinner we thought we were busy. Now we're getting up toward 95."

She believes part of the increase could be due to cheap accommodation with no cooking facilities.

"We don't get a lot of homeless people - they live in the park and don't come here," she said.

In 2013 the number had swollen to an average of 40 people a week, including the elderly and families.

There are now five families with children who are regulars.

Elaine Willmott, a single mother of three daughters aged, 3, 6 and 13 has been bringing her family to St Paul's Soup Kitchen since they arrived in Maryborough a year ago.

Due to health reasons, Miss Willmott is unable to work and her government benefits only stretch so far.

She said St Paul's Soup Kitchen was a big help with food every week.

Mr Vollmerhause said that it was a combined church effort providing two soup nights and two breakfasts a week.

Many of the ingredients are supplied by the soup makers themselves, however, Mr Vollmerhause welcomes donations such as dried ingredients for soup and fresh vegetables which can be delivered to St Paul's Anglican Parish office Tuesday-Thursday 9.30am-noon.

A team from Bilo has recently come onboard and provide ingredients, and bread is donated from a local bakery.

Mr Vollmerhause said the Salvation Army provided meals from their Citadel on Wednesday nights.

To volunteer, turn up at the back of the parish hall at 5pm on Monday or Friday or phone Allan Vollmerhause on 4121 5237.

Topics:  charity food maryborough soup kitchen

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