| Palm Beach Post
The Caridad Center Soup Kitchen, a west of Boynton Beach facility that has been providing free meals to needy people since 1983, is about to get a makeover.
In March, the Soup Kitchen converted to a pantry-type facility after the pandemic struck the region.
“Everyone still gets a healthy, hot meal,” said acting CEO Marlene Meijia. “They just take it with them now.”
Even before the onset of the pandemic, the Soup Kitchen needed to expand. The 4,275-square foot facility will grow in size to nearly 7,000 square feet once the work is completed in the spring of 2021. Work is expected to begin this year. The facility will stay open during construction.
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The new Soup Kitchen will have more space to store non-perishable items that all too often are being stored in administrative offices. The kitchen itself will be expanded as well.
The Soup Kitchen is located among a complex of buildings off Boynton Beach Boulevard that offers healthcare, education, and outreach programs to the poor, uninsured, and underserved in Palm Beach County.
The Caridad Board of Directors had submitted its expansion plans to the county before the presence of the pandemic that has resulted in a much greater demand for its services. In February, 18,428 people came to the Soup Kitchen. In June, the had figure increased by 222 percent to 58,326.
“We barely have room in our freezers and refrigerators to store all our food,” Meijia said.
The Soup Kitchen element of Caridad also offers a “Meal on Wheels” program. Meijia said 144 meals are delivered each day. That is the most it can do, which is another reason why the expansion needs to occur, she said, noting it cannot come soon enough.
The Soup Kitchen never charges for its meals. It is sustained through donor contributions and the work of its volunteers. It does not receive any funding from county, state or federal governments.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to The Soup Kitchen can visit its web site, thesoupkitchen.org.
E-mail Mike Diamond at [email protected]