Nourishing Bodies and Spirits in New Haven
Although the faces may change from day-to-day, the outcome is always the same. Everyone who visits the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK) leaves with ample nourishment to help them get through the night.
For 27 years, DESK has been serving the homeless and working poor of the Greater New Haven community – men, women and children, of all races and all ages. Last year the organization served over 138,000 evening meals, provided over 66,094 pantry food bags and offered 24,600 bag lunches. These numbers exceeded past years and continue to climb.
The Community Foundation for
Greater New Haven recently awarded DESK with a $50,000 multi-year grant to continue their important work at combating hunger in New Haven
. Linda Carbone, Executive Director of DESK, knows all too well the complexity of the need.
When asked what makes her organization a success, she humbly concluded that DESK’s longstanding history and continuity have had the greatest impact on the community. Those assisted by Carbone and her small staff, feel a bit differently about exactly what makes DESK so special.
Joe, a middle-aged man who found himself homeless after being incarcerated shared that, “There are people here that care about us – all of us. This is one of the places that I know I can sit down, and I can relax a bit, and no one tells me to move on. They feed us a good meal.”
|Photo courtesy of Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.
Ralph, a senior citizen who relies on DESK during times of financial uncertainty, agrees that it is a welcoming environment. “They are very clean here, very kind, very courteous and it is a pleasure to come here and it is a pleasure to talk to these people.”
Josie, a mother struggling to support her young daughter says, “Linda and Meaghan make it feel like my own dining room. If they weren’t here, I wouldn’t be able to give my daughter a meal.” Josie also uses the weekly pantry, which helps ensure that her daughter does not go hungry during the day.
DESK staff and volunteers are particularly sensitive to the needs of the children they serve. Wanting them to feel comfortable and special, they provide a “toy chest” filled with coloring books and small toys.
Understanding, too, that pets are valued members of many families, DESK also provides a pet food pantry. The free pet food, which is donated by businesses and individuals, offers pet owners greater peace of mind. Without the assistance, many would have to leave the pets they love at local animal shelters.
These extra caring touches are important to Carbone, who says, “DESK has become a part of my heart. I love the guests, the volunteers and the staff. I love the mission of DESK and love being a part of it.
Many of the volunteers who assist the organization, an astounding 400 individuals per month, share her sentiments. “I always know when I come to DESK I am going to be surrounded by many people; people that want to do something to better this world. They want to give a piece of themselves and they want to serve the community,” explains Ursula, a dedicated volunteer.
Although the volunteers and staff are always happy to see familiar faces, their greatest satisfaction comes when individuals or families stops visiting. “I have seen individuals who were on the street and found themselves getting an apartment, and when I don’t see them any longer, I presume things are going well,” reflects Carbone.
The presumption is a good one given how helpful a warm hot meal, delivered with loving kindness, is in nourishing the body and the spirit.
To volunteer or offer support, please visit the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen giveGreater.org® profile.
Did you know?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012 (the most current data available), 10.6 million individuals were classified as “working poor.” This represents the number of people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force, yet still earned less than the poverty level.
Source: “A Profile of the Working Poor, 2012” (PDF), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.