CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE (Concord Monitor) - The Friendly Kitchen has been seeing a lot of new faces lately. Concord's only soup kitchen served meals to 13,070 people in the first three months of the year, up 28.2 percent from the 10,195 people served in the first three months of 2011, the nonprofit said.
After the kitchen's building at 14 Montgomery St. was largely gutted last April 30 in a fire, the group began serving meals at local churches, and is currently operating out of Sacred Heart Church, 52 Pleasant St.
Jennifer Lombardo, the Friendly Kitchen's manager, talked with the Monitor about the increase in demand for the nonprofit's free meals.
How noticeable has been the increase in people coming in? It's been very noticeable. The numbers for each particular meal that we've been serving have gone up. I think, way back, we used to say we averaged 75 meals a night. To serve 90 or 100 right now is not unusual.
What do you think is driving the increase? I think it's the economy. We're getting a lot of people who are either families or some elderly people who just can't make ends meet, so they need a place to get food if they're going to pay their rent. . . . We're seeing more people with young children than, I think, we've ever seen.
Do you think serving meals at Sacred Heart, instead of the old building on Montgomery Street, has been part of the reason for the increase? I think the location does have something to do with it. I don't think it's huge, because it's not really that much farther than we were. I also think people are maybe more aware of us now than they were.
Is the increased demand putting any strain on the organization or volunteers? It puts a strain in that they have to make larger portions, they have to make a larger amount of food. But they all say, "Well, that's what it is."
What's the latest on building the new kitchen down on South Commercial Street? Nothing has really changed. . . . We're waiting on funding and that sort of thing to get it going.
Copyright 2013 Concord Monitor
Updated 412 days ago Article ID# 1535530