Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Helping Hand

The serving window at the Pueblo Community Soup Kitchen.

It is no secret that people in need of assistance has been on the rise in Pueblo over the last few years. People are making their way to Pueblo for multiple reasons , with the booming marijuana industry, legal recreational and medical pot, or what ever the reason may be, it can not be denied that people are choosing to move to the Steel City. With an influx of people and a lack of employment opportunities for those people, the need for services for people in need have risen drastically. The local programs that use federal, state and county funds for people in need are being pushed to their limits and people need help. POSADA is one of those organizations and on their website they state that right now, they are at their limit for helping and they are helping Pueblo people and families before they can help outsiders. POSADA also makes a suggestion that if you do not have enough money saved to cover a deposit (first and last month’s rent) and a $500 deposit for electricity, then people should reconsider moving to Pueblo.

Volunteer, Lou Lassasso sorts through donated food items.
 One place people in need can turn is the Pueblo Community Soup Kitchen. For almost 40 years the kitchen has been lending a helping hand to the people of Pueblo.  One of the most remarkable things about the kitchen is that they only have three full time employees, led by Director, Eva Matola and receive very little government assistance, most all of their food comes from donations from places like Amy's Donuts and Safeway and is prepared and served by an almost all volunteer staff.

Director, Eva Matola tries the beef stew lunch meal.
The Kitchen is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday with breakfast starting at 9:00am and lunch at 11:15am. The Kitchen also provides sack lunches for people with jobs that cannot make it back for lunch. Matola said that the Kitchen serves about 80 people for both meals at the beginning of the month, but as the month wears on and people’s money or food stamps run short there is an upswing to about 130-140 people per meal. Matola said with school letting out for the summer she expects those numbers to rise with school-aged children looking for meals.
As the donations come in they are sorted, stocked in the freezer or storeroom or prepared for the days meal.
When the Kitchen does not  use everything that is donated to them, they often call upon other organizations in Pueblo like The Salvation Army, and the Wayside Cross Rescue Mission and share the bounty with them and vice-versa. In order to use the Kitchen patrons need not show proof of need, write down their name or pay for anything, they simply have to walk through the door.

Food in the freezer.
Food in the storeroom.
Volunteer, Gloria Casillas cuts pastries.

 Cook, John Martinez prepares lunch.
Volunteer, David De Lacruz washes a tray
 before breakfast is served.
Volunteer, Theresa Arguello puts out fresh coffee cups
for patrons during breakfast.

Volunteer, Brian Kelsen (left) along with another volunteer box up
 food to be distributed to another local kitchen.

Employee, Mark Phillips washes
 a stew pot.

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