A sign on the window says “Love by the Bowl,” but you won’t need to read it if you happen to be nosing around 9th Street on a Wednesday afternoon.
Aromas of rich minestrone and sweet corn chowder were inviting to anyone walking by on Oct. 26—the first lunch at Houston’s new soup kitchen.
“We hope it will become a warm, welcoming place where you can have a hearty bowl of soup and enjoy one another’s company,” said organizer Bobbi Edmunds.
Open to those in need, the soup kitchen will run every Wednesday, year-round. Doors open at 10 a.m., when people are invited in to pour a coffee and have a seat at one of the round tables set up inside. Soup is served from 11 a.m. on, likely until sometime after 1:00 p.m.
“You never know. Once we get known and Linda’s soup gets known, it might be gone by 11:30,” said Edmunds with a laugh.
Love by the Bowl came about very quickly, Edmunds said—just over a month after she started planning with fellow church members Linda Barden and Donna Duzan.
That planning came about directly after a Sept. 17 speech to the Houston Baptist Church. Regional director Colin van der Kuur said Houston Baptist was well-known for its integrity, but could do more outreach in the community.
“He kind of gave us a little kick in the butt,” said Edmunds.
Edmunds had thought about opening a soup kitchen before, and she was on the phone in no time.
“I immediately thought of Donna and Linda,” she said. Donna Duzan has always wanted to be a cook, she added, and Linda Barden has dreams of opening a coffee shop with her daughter.
Both of them jumped at the chance to help.
“There’s been talk of a soup kitchen in town in the past, but people got bogged down in the red tape.” said Duzan. “But we just plugged through it,” she said, adding that they got lots of support from the community.
Thanks to Doug Monteldi, who donated the otherwise empty storefront at 9th and Poulton, Love by the Bowl has a convenient location downtown.
Henry Barendregt of Tower Communications helped the trio to wire up their stove—soups are prepared in the full-size kitchen at Houston Baptist and then heated up on site.
Across the street, the Food Market has offered to donate soup buns, and the Sausage Factory is donating bones for stock. From Super Valu to Mountain View Dental, the Salvation Army to B.V. Chiropractor, lots of other businesses have signed on to take part.
“We’ve had people approach us already who would really like to volunteer,” Barden added.
Some twenty people came in for soup last Wednesday—and that number is expected to grow.
“It could be five or 105 who come through the door,” said Duzan. Cooking a meal for so many is a big step up from the family meals she’s used to making, but Duzan said she looks forward to the challenge.
“It was a little overwhelming yesterday—the first day here,” Barden said. “But it was actually fun.”