PORT TOWNSEND — Outside the church hall on a wintery Tuesday, volunteer Becky Brown-Nienow is nonchalant about the amount of food handed out.
“We usually make 85,” she said of the handmade lunches called “Just Soup,” but which actually include fruit, multi-grain bread and an energy bar for later.
Twenty of those meals are delivered to the village of Caswell-Brown, the encampment off Mill Road, Brown-Nienow said.
Last Tuesday’s main course was ham and carrot potato soup — with a vegetarian option without ham — served to guests from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the parking lot of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
The address is 1020 Jefferson St., while Just Soup customers are asked to drive, bike or walk to the back parish parking lot on Franklin Street. A sign points the way from Tyler Street.
St. Paul’s hosted Just Soup for a dozen years, with its congregation providing the funds. Donations — from people stopping at the parking lot — and grants from the Jefferson Community Foundation have also helped.
For about 22 months now, these lunches have been portable, dispensed from a table in the parking lot. When the pandemic began, Elizabeth Bindschadler, a St. Paul’s parishioner, led the transition from what had long been an indoor parish hall meal.
“It looks like we’re going to hold our own with this,” Brown-Nienow said of the pickup system.
A few weeks ago, Just Soup workers distributed 101 lunches, she added.
There were no bad weather breaks; during the snowy week after Christmas, “it was very slow. But we were here,” Brown-Nienow said.
Every Tuesday, four chefs work in the St. Paul’s kitchen from early morning. Then a team of laborers slew, pack and deliver the full meals to the table outside, where Meso Tadeo served as a sort of butler last week.
Inside, Marny Friedman and Christine Emmes, moving gracefully, were filling tall mugs with steaming soup.
All of this is possible, Brown-Nienow said, because all the workers are volunteers.
“We’ve probably got about 20… We’ve got some great people ready to sit in the rain and cold,” she said.
“Some people have asked that we set up tables outside” so that guests can have lunch together. St. Paul might do it in the spring or summer in his backyard, she said, “because that’s what people are missing: community.”
To learn more about volunteering with the Just Soup team, visit www.stpaulspt.org and use the Connection menu. The church office can also be reached by calling 360-385-0770 or emailing [email protected].
Diane Urbani de la Paz, Jefferson County Senior Reporter, can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]
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