Sarah Adkins has been the executive director of the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen for just over two years; however, the organization has been caring for those in the community - feeding those who need it most, without question - for 30 years. In fact, it's one of just a handful of soup kitchens in the state that serves a hot meal six days per week.
Since the organization began 30 years ago as a class project by a Central Michigan University student, it has served the community from several locations, including The Wesley Foundation on CMU's campus, Trinity Methodist Church, and now its location at 621 South Adams. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, serving the community in the soup kitchen's dining area has not been possible; so, it has changed to a "drive-thru" service.
This is just one of the many changes the ICSK has faced during the pandemic. Adkins talks about the changes the ICSK has made, how the organization is serving the community now, and what she sees in the future.
This is her COVID-19 Diary:
While my time with the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen began just 2 short years ago, ICSK has been serving the community for a number of years. It has faithfully served Isabella County and its residents for 30 years, providing free meals to seniors, children, college students, the mentally and physically challenged, single-parent families, those experiencing homelessness, and others who are facing food insecurity. We have traditionally offered a free continental breakfast and hot meal Monday- Saturday to ANYONE. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the way we function has undergone many changes all while serving an increased number of people.
Sarah Adkins, executive director of the Isabella Community Soup KitchenSince the beginning of this pandemic, we have seen an increase in food insecurity in our community and continue to see new faces at the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen - faces we have never seen before. Some of our guests are currently unemployed and are still waiting for their benefits and some of the children we serve normally would have received a meal at school.
On Friday, May 22nd we hit a record, serving 197 double meals (394 meals total). Over the next coming months, I foresee the need for our services (and others) continuing to rise as a direct result of COVID-19.
Prior to COVID-19, our meals were served within our newly renovated congregate dining center. We have now moved to providing take out, sack-style meals in a “drive-through” fashion. Under normal circumstances, the food we use to prepare our daily meals is nearly all donated from local grocers and stores, keeping our food cost very, very low. We used to average $100/wk on food/supplies, and now we are averaging $1,000-$1,200 a week to provide the meals we do. We have received and continue to apply for and seek out grant funding opportunities to not only offset this cost, but prepare us for what may come, as it is likely we will be unable to hold any fundraisers for 2020.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen has seen an increase in the need for their services.
As Executive Director, funding and program support is continuously on my mind. I have been so thankful for the continued commitment of our donors, volunteers, and staff who make our mission possible; however, their commitment to serve during these difficult times - a time when this organization is needed most - is inspiring. It gives me confidence that this organization and this community will get through this - together.