UCE’S SOUP KITCHEN LOWDOWN
UCE’s soup kitchen work is part of an Evanston-wide system that provides a meal every day of the week 365 days a year. Several are coordinated by Interfaith Action of Evanston, and others are run independently by congregations. A schedule of all the offerings is available here.
During the fall and spring, UCE hosts Wednesday dinners when our neighbor Beth Emet is celebrating holidays and unable to host. We serve dinner and provide a sack lunch. This fall we are hosting on September 16 and 23 .
During the summer, we host three Monday lunches at Second Baptist and just completed our third on August 17th.
Like many of the congregations that host regularly, we aim to offer “radical hospitality” and believe that community, respect, and dignity are as important as food. We serve a nutritious and delicious meal we would be glad to have ourselves. We use tablecloths and real silverware, and often have piano music from our own Robb Geiger. We have practices to make our guests feel welcome and at ease.
Here are a few questions and answers we often get asked:
Who attends the soup kitchens? Some of the guests are homeless and depend on Evanston’s soup kitchens, warming centers, and shelter. Many others have housing but don’t have income for enough food. Some may even have the basics of housing and food but come for the community meal. All are welcome.
Why don’t we substitute at UCE more often for other churches? Our dates helping Beth Emet each year are determined by their rabbi and the Jewish calendar. Other congregations don’t need a substitute location because they don’t have the same limits on holidays as the Jewish congregations. They do offer the opportunity for outside groups to serve on their schedule, which you can read about at the Interfaith Action page linked above.
Why do I have to bring the casseroles hot on Wednesday? Our kitchen facilities don’t support heating up 10 casseroles from the refrigerator. We know cooking on Wednesday afternoon isn’t convenient for everyone, and really appreciate our cooks!
Why is there sometimes so much extra food? The number of people who attend the soup kitchen dinners varies unpredictably from 75-140 depending on weather, the beginning or end of the month, and the economy. We want our guests to relax and be sure there will be plenty of food. We almost always offer seconds and plastic containers for taking leftovers. If we still have significant leftovers we bring them to Hilda’s Place.
Ready to get involved? You can sign up on the volunteer page to cook, purchase food, or volunteer. There are also opportunities to serve as coordinators in the kitchen, security/hospitality, and clean-up. If interested, contact me.
I have been coordinating the Wednesday soup kitchens for almost 10 years. I have used my skills in planning and organizing to help others, plus learned new skills and made great friends. Come join us, we have lots of fun!