by Kelsey Butler
A hot meal isn’t the only thing you’ll discover at the Anniston Soup Bowl, 301 West 15th Street. You’ll also find smiling faces, fellowship, and friendship. Serving approximately 700 meals a month, the staff and volunteers at the Soup Bowl say it is a community effort to feed the hungry.
The Soup Bowl serves free lunch between the hours of 11:30 am and 1:00 pm Monday through Friday.
Katrina Dorsey took over as director of Anniston Soup Bowl in September. She says “we serve anybody that walks through the door… we don’t ask where they live; we just ask if they want everything.”
The Soup Bowl relies on donations and volunteers to prepare and provide 150 meals a day.
Shirley Milton is one of those volunteers. You will find her at the Soup Bowl every Thursday and Friday. She explains that visitors “can have refills on almost everything… It’s not just one helping; it’s really how much they want because this is the only food that some people get.”
Fellow volunteer Denise White has been helping out at the Soup Bowl for three and a half years. “This was the first place I was led to when I retired in 2015,” she explains. “I just loved the atmosphere and a lot of people you develop relationships with, and there are some very, very good people that come here.”
Walking into Anniston Soup Bowl there’s a feeling of acceptance and family. Familiar faces saying hello and thank-yous passed all around. White says visitors at the Soup Bowl “are so very grateful to be able to come in.”
As volunteers, Milton and White help with all sorts of tasks. “My duties are to assist the people that are handicapped or have small children,” Milton says. “And to refill the cups and to clean the area when they’re finished so that other people can come in and be seated in a clean area.”
“I think part of our duties, too, is to always greet them with a smile and always express kindness and to begin to know their names,” White adds. “To just talk with them about how their week is going. So much of the time that kindness extended is what will make their day because sometimes they’re not seeing that in other places.”
Dorsey says the Soup Bowl always need donations, and so far the support has been overwhelming. “There are so many people in Anniston that actually know about the Soup Bowl from a donation perspective and they come. It’s actually a community effort to take care of people that are hungry.”
Volunteering at Anniston Soup Bowl is easy, and there are several ways to help. From donating money or food to volunteering your time. Dorsey is appreciative of every type of donation.
The Soup Bowl is open from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm Monday through Friday. “We need volunteers and can use volunteers to prepare the meal for the day, to help wash the dishes from the day, and to help clean the dining hall,” Dorsey explains. “Some of those things are time specific, but whenever people want to come they can come.”
If you want to get involved, contact Anniston Soup Bowl at 256-236-6794.