Grandparents hold a special place in our heart, especially when it comes to food. Many of us have memories of grandma’s cooking, always delicious and made with love. Grandmas around the world have served as sources of never-ending culinary knowledge, using their skills and family recipes to feed the people in their care.
As their children grow up and start cooking for families of their own, many older adults turn to a different kind of family to feed: their community.
“I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I had never cooked for 50 people before,” said Carolyn Gourley, Food Program Coordinator at Page Soup Kitchen. “It’s tiring and it’s hard work. It’s the hardest physical work I’ve ever done. But this is where I need to be.”
At Page Soup Kitchen in the heart of downtown Aberdeen, North Carolina, a handful of dedicated volunteers from all over Moore County feed between 80 and 110 people a hot meal twice a week. For six years, this is how they have helped their neighbors in need.
Volunteers fix the meals from scratch, making creative and nutritious dishes from the food they pick up from our Sandhills Branch. They make everything from vegetable beef soup, to coleslaw, to grilled cheese sandwiches. They serve it to their guests who sit around big round tables as they socialize with one another. Then everyone gets a bag lunch to take home.
“We want them to know that they are loved. We treat them with respect. We are here to serve,” said Carolyn.
This is the only soup kitchen in Moore County, and they provide more than food to their guests. They also offer health screenings and a computer training program to teach basic and advanced computer skills. Their service results in a significant impact on their community. Carolyn, though, takes a simpler view.
“This soup kitchen doesn’t have some grand plan. It’s just people in the community doing what they can to help someone else.”
For Carolyn and so many of the grandparents and older adults in our lives, it’s as simple as that. You do what you have to do to feed your family, to make sure they are happy and healthy. And when it’s an entire community that needs your help, well, you put on your apron and get to work.
May is Older Americans Month. More than 45,500 seniors in central & eastern North Carolina live in poverty, and thousands more struggle to survive on a fixed income. This month we will share stories of seniors struggling with food insecurity as well as those serving their community to help solve senior hunger.