OUR PROGRAMS > NOT-SO-TYPICAL SOUP KITCHEN
St. John's Food for the Poor Program
at the St. Francis Xavier Center
The St. Francis Xavier Center serves as a community soup kitchen for the St. John’s Food for the Poor Program. Our not-so-typical soup kitchen serves over 450 to 700 hot nutritious meals per day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
It is just seventy-five steps from the former soup kitchen in St. John’s Church basement to the
St. Francis Xavier Center. Seventy-five steps and you have arrived at anything but “your typical soup kitchen!”
Bill Riley shares two reasons why. First, “I serve everything from sushi to fresh cut fruit. We have served prime rib, chicken, shrimp cocktail. You name it! The menu changes every day. Once, a friend of mine, who cooks, made this mac and cheese and hamburger. It was awesome! Everybody asked when we would have it again.”
“This is the type of place where everyone is a guest. We give people dignity. We make their sandwich right in front of them and ask what they like: an extra piece of ham, mustard, whatever. It is important because food is like medicine. Everyone is welcome and we don’t turn people away.”
St. John's Food for the Poor Program Dining Room Experience
The dining room in the St. Francis Xavier Center is unique! Guests are welcomed into a spacious dining room by Fr. John Madden or volunteer greeters. Natural light streams in from the expansive windows: guests say the bright environment is friendly and uplifting.
Every meal hosts guests of all ages: working poor, unemployed, seniors, homeless, families with children, and children unaccompanied by adults. Children are welcomed by volunteers dedicated to helping them as well as special child-friendly menu alternatives.
The center volunteers share meals with guests, and guests are welcome to become volunteers. Because no entry questions are asked and because guests, volunteers, and members of our local community eat and work together, the dining experience is much more of a family celebration than an institutional experience.
And, after the meal, each guest is invited to go to our “Free Food Table” to take home as much food as they want.