Project Good: ZUMC Dishes Out Love

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Commentary by Brad Thompson

The Soup’s On food ministry at Roberts Park United Methodist Church in Indianapolis seems to, from a volunteer standpoint, attract high-energy people. The volunteers are a blur of motion for about two hours as they fight hunger with free meals.

About 20 years ago, the Roberts Park church noticed that Christian churches generally avoided operating food ministries on Sunday to give their volunteers the day off. Hunger does not take a day off, so the church started a Sunday lunch that has been very popular. During that time, the ministry has served nearly 150,000 meals, which translates to about 250 per week.

The Roberts Park church works in concert with other local Methodist churches to staff the soup kitchen on any given Sunday. Approximately four times a year, the Zionsville United Methodist Church staffs the ministry.

The work proceeds in two phases. First, a group of volunteers that often includes families with younger kids works on an assembly line to make sack lunches – or more accurately, sack dinners – to be handed out at lunch so that people have food for the evening as well. The sack lunches include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as well as healthy snacks. The kids decorate the bags and help with the process. That work is done in Zionsville.

The second phase is more intense. This is the group that goes down to the Roberts Park church to serve the lunch, doing essentially everything but cooking the food. The church has a professional chef for that. A group of approximately 18 volunteers serves the roughly 250 meals and then washes the silverware and plates.

The customers love the tasty, hot meal on chinaware. There are fancy breads donated by Panera and decorated desserts donated by other local restaurants. The church works hard to convey love to its neighbors.

You can learn more about the ministry at robertsparkumc.org/ministries/soups-on-sunday-meal/.

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