Feeding the hungry: St. Benedict's soup kitchen marks a million meals served

May 3—On Friday, volunteers with St. Benedict Church soup kitchen served up a tasty, nutritious lunch that included turkey Manhattan, green beans, salad, breads and desserts.

Many people dined and socialized, while others eagerly waited in line for their turn to receive a meal.

The soup kitchen, which provides free lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, serves an average of 120 people each day, said Judy Hogan, a volunteer who also was the soup kitchen supervisor for about 12 years.

St. Ben's recently served its millionth meal and celebrated the milestone April 26. The soup kitchen has been feeding the hungry in Terre Haute for 43 years.

Judy's husband, Terry, did the math and determined the millionth meal likely was served sometime in March. "We were just amazed at that," she said.

The soup kitchen continues its work feeding the hungry "because there's such a need," Hogan said. For many who frequent the soup kitchen, it's their only meal of the day.

She knows the regulars by their first name and complimented one diner on her Cincinnati Reds tee-shirt.

Of those served, many are homeless, while others face food insecurity. Some drive, while others walk or ride bikes.

Being able to feed those who need a good meal "is a great feeling. It's a blessing," said Hogan, a retired elementary school teacher. "I get a little concerned when someone doesn't show up. ... Are they sick?"

When the food program first began many years, St. Patrick's Church approached St. Ben's about having a program, and St. Pat's at that time provided them with soup and sandwiches.

About 10 years ago, St. Ben's had grown large enough that "we went out on our own," Hogan said.

The soup kitchen has about 10 volunteers per day, and a total of about 45 volunteers.

St. Ben's Church provides funds, as do civic organizations and businesses. One Hundred Women Who Care, Guys Who Give and Miracle on 7th Street all have donated money. Various restaurants and individuals donate food.

Terre Haute Casino Resort recently provided a meal.

Master Gardeners and individuals who have gardens donate fresh produce.

The soup kitchen also relies on Terre Haute Catholic Charities in its mission to feed the hungry.

"Terre Haute really is a great city. It's so giving," Hogan said.

Ciara Krumreich, the current soup kitchen manager, at one point helped serve food and later distributed sandwiches for carryout. "It's rewarding to be able to help people less fortunate than ourselves," she said.

Among those enjoying the meal was Jason Peterson, 35, and his son, Alister, age 5.

Peterson and his family eat meals there often. "Food costs are so high," he said. He also likes to give his wife a break from cooking.

Peterson enjoys socializing with others over lunch, and the food is very good, he said. He praised the volunteers for their efforts.

Another person dining at the soup kitchen, Penny, also appreciates the program and dines there often. She receives government assistance for food.

"Our budget is really tight... it's not always easy to get food," she said. "This helps." She was accompanied by her 20-year-old daughter.

The St. Benedict Soup Kitchen is located at 128 S. Ninth St. at the corner of Ninth and Walnut streets.

Those interested in volunteering or donating should contact the church office at 812-232-8421.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com. Follow Sue on X at @TribStarSue.