New equipment, expansion nearly ready at Isabella Community Soup Kitchen

The Isabella Community Soup Kitchen (ICSK) has more than doubled the number of meals it serves since the pandemic began 18 months ago. But not in the usual way.

“Because of COVID, we needed to pivot our entire in-house dining operation into a drive-thru, no-contact service so we could still provide much-needed food to our guests,” says Sarah Adkins, executive director.

Where they once served 90-100 guests daily, the soup kitchen is now consistently feeding up to 275 meals per day. The center serves to-go lunches on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Sarah Adkins, Executive Director of the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen.
“Our numbers are still very high, which tells me what’s really going on out in the world as far as how the pandemic has affected people’s lives,” Adkins says. “Food insecurity is very real in our community.”

This fall, all meals have been prepared off-site and trucked back to their location at 621 S. Adams St. in Mt. Pleasant. That’s because the nonprofit is still awaiting delivery of new commercial kitchen equipment ordered months ago.

“Unfortunately, this project, like all construction projects right now, is feeling the effects of a shortage in the workforce and limited supply availability,” she says.

Along with replacing the outdated equipment, the soup kitchen recently completed a major expansion that included additional dining, barrier-free bathrooms, a new entrance, and office space. That project was made possible thanks to a $500,000 capital campaign completed just prior to the pandemic.

“We’re all chomping at the bit to get the equipment delivered and open our doors to in-house dining for our guests,” she says.

Adkins says none of this work would have been possible without the generous support of the community.

“It’s really the community that decides it’s important to fight food insecurity here,” she says. “Thanks to them, we’ve been providing free meals for 30 years – and we want to make sure we can continue doing that for another 30 years.”