Calvary Baptist Church’s parsonage at 207 E. Third Ave. has opened as Calvary’s Soup Kitchen on Saturdays.
The church’s Women’s Ministry will cook meals in the church kitchen and serve them in the house next door on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It all began when Peggie Troutt, president of the Women’s Ministry, visited with Bernard Jones, who runs the Store House food, clothing and necessities bank and also repairs bikes in the house.
Talking about the homeless and hungry people who slept outside the church and around the neighborhood, they realized those people had no way to cook the food they received.
So Troutt suggested opening a soup kitchen on the main floor of the house and continuing the Store House and bike ministry in the basement.
She called Doris Andrews, wife of Calvary’s pastor, the Rev. C.W. (Chet) Andrews, and vice president of the Women’s Ministry, to share her idea.
“I began explaining my idea, and she became quiet,” Troutt said. “Then she told me it was the pastor’s vision, too.”
Rev. Andrews, who has served Calvary Baptist for 30 years, had that vision 16 years ago.
“I always tell people that what I want for Spokane is to feed the hungry and clothe the naked,” he said. “When I heard Peggie wanted to start a soup kitchen, I said, ‘Praise the Lord that it will come to fruition.’ I believe it is what God wants us to do.”
Then, he said, he began to “push” her – meaning, “pray until something happens.”
For guidance, Troutt began calling churches in Western Washington and local churches, such as Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has a breakfast program Sunday mornings.
She also plans to visit the House of Charity, Union Gospel Mission and the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant to gain ideas on how to run the soup kitchen smoothly.
Troutt applied a $180 donation from Washington State Order of the Eastern Star to fund food handlers’ permits for those who will cook the food in the church’s licensed kitchen.
She and others made a list of what needed to be done at the house, and church members came by to do the tasks – painting, repairing cupboards, laying new vinyl in the kitchen, removing carpet in the living and dining rooms, varnishing and polishing the wood floors underneath, doing minor repairs and filling the cupboards with food to cook.
With no budget, the organizers have walked in faith. After one television interview, people came by the church and gave donations. The Curves exercise center at 164 S. Washington St. asked members to donate nonperishable foods and to help serve.
“It blew my mind how generous people are,” Rev. Andrews said. “We have not had to tap the church budget. Food and money donations are coming in, supplying what we need.”
Troutt is praying for there to be one or two cooks each Saturday, and three servers. The cooked food will be transported from the church kitchen to the parsonage, where it will be served.
She expects to offer spaghetti, casseroles, sandwiches and salads, as well as soup.
With 45 to 50 people coming in at one time and sitting down to eat, organizers plan to serve more than 100 in a session, using paper plates to make cleanup easy.
Like other shelters and food programs, Calvary’s Soup Kitchen will have “do’s and don’ts.” People who come will need to abide by basic rules – not arriving intoxicated, or using bad language – to maintain a respectful place where people can eat and visit.
Calvary is announcing the program at other shelters and places serving homeless and hungry people.
On days the Soup Kitchen is not open, the Store House will continue to operate, with Jones answering the door.
Over the years, the church membership has fluctuated from 125 to 250 as people come and go at Fairchild Air Force Base.
Among those arriving with the Air Force were Troutt and her husband, James. When they came to Spokane in 1983, aside from working all day, she did community work and studied human resources at Gonzaga University.
In 2005, she retired after 36 years of working as executive secretary for five commanders at Fairchild. A month after retirement, she started as a substitute instructional assistant and secretary for Spokane Public Schools.
“I like organizing and making something happen to do good,” Troutt said. “All I do, I do in faith. I pray, and things happen.
“At Fairchild, I prayed for a multicultural fair. We started one and 300 people came. Over the years, it grew to draw 5,000.”
The Women’s Ministry also does small projects like collecting toiletries to give to women’s shelters.
“I continually pray that God will send willing workers with a passion to serve the community,” said Troutt. “Without that passion, people’s support would fizzle.”
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