Soup kitchen offers students community service opportunity

Allegheny College is on a mission to become an invaluable resource for the Meadville community. The college campus is striving to recreate beneficial and authentic relations between Meadville, Crawford County and the college.

One way Allegheny is striving to bridge the gap between communities is by sending three or four volunteers to the Meadville Community Soup Kitchen every weekday to help clean the facility and serve meals.

The Meadville Community Soup Kitchen is a non-profit organization, operating under 501(c)(4), located in the basement of Stone United Methodist Church and designed to provide a meal to anyone in need. All the funds that help support the soup kitchen come from donations from the surrounding community. The soup kitchen does not receive state, federal or United Way funding.

Allegheny College is one of 26 different groups that volunteer at the kitchen. Other organizations include the Crawford County Career and Technical Center, local schools and the Arc of Crawford County.

The kitchen has been operating for nearly 35 years and feeds approximately 1,900 people a month and allows patrons to receive seconds. In 2016, the Meadville Community Soup Kitchen served approximately 25,000 meals.   

On any given day, the soup kitchen serves between 60 and 120 people.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without [the students]. We miss them when they leave for the summer,” said Beverly Nutter, the kitchens coordinator.

Nutter said she was working as a custodian for Stone United Methodist Church 35 years ago when the soup kitchen first opened its doors. Within the year, she began working with the non-profit.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community,” Nutter said. “I just fell into it.”

Sarah Nathan, ’18, has been working with the soup kitchen since she became a Bonner Leader her freshman year at Allegheny. Nathan refers to the soup kitchen as a natural fit, and even took on the role of being the campus coordinator for the kitchen even though she is no longer working with the Bonner program.

“I enjoy the experience of working alongside people I don’t know that well because it’s a great place to get to know other people and get to know the patrons of the soup kitchen as well,” Nathan said.  “I just like going into Meadville and getting out of the campus environment.”                         

“Over the three years that I have been working at the soup kitchen, there have definitely been people with whom I’ve built relationships and have gotten to hear what they have to say about the soup kitchen making an impact in their lives,” Nathan said.

Allegheny encourages students of all class years to volunteer.

“The more the merrier. The more help we can get, the better it will be,” said Katelynn Frawley, ’20,  a first-year volunteer at the Meadville Community Soup Kitchen.

“I found it really rewarding to help someone,” Frawley said. “It’s just a really great experience. I think it is a good experience for any student to have.”