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Soup Kitchen's Job Training Helps Clients Grow: Clients Growing Their Own in Greenhouses They Built.

When founders of the Good Samaritan Inn signed a three-year lease on their first building in 1982, they believed that was all the time they would be in business.

Two buildings and 35 years later, Decatur's soup kitchen is not only feeding the hungry a hot meal every day, the ministry is taking the job training it began three years ago to the next level.

The most obvious sign is a pair of greenhouses built by Good Samaritan apprentices over the past several months, one of which is already nurturing sprouts and plants set to go into the ground as soon as the time is right.

"We've been germinating for about three weeks now," said the Rev. Stacey Brohard, executive director since 2013. "This next winter, we'll have stuff growing in there all winter long."

Five students are currently enrolled in an advanced horticultural/culinary class now that the former Mercy Gardens and Mercy Kitchens series have morphed into a "field to table" training, Brohard said.

Cindy Jackson teaches gardening, Alfred de Vera, an adjunct culinary arts instructor from Richland Community College, teaches cooking, and Kenny Jones teaches light construction.

Growing the soup kitchen's own food allows Brohard to put money that ordinarily would be covering the transportation costs of wholesale produce into paychecks for his staff and apprentices.

"I'm getting as much as 10 days of shelf life out of our products, as compared to five days," he said, "and we're giving jobs to people who are having a tough time finding work anywhere else."

On the volunteer side, Advancement Director Julie Lakshmanan said the ministry's cup runneth over, with First Baptist Church in Mount Zion recently signing on to serve the toughest to-fill dates: Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Independence Day.

The church also put the soup kitchen in touch with Jeff Quick, a Christian musician and one of their own, who has agreed to perform at the ministry's cook off fundraiser next weekend.

The Good Samaritan Inn has always depended on churches, businesses and service clubs for volunteers and donations. It was founded by First and Grace United Methodist and First and Westminster Presbyterian churches, and initially served meals in the basement of the Salvation Army's headquarters before moving twice and eventually ending up in a newly constructed building in 2010.

The soup kitchen has served more than 1 million midday meals over its 35-year history.

"The reality is we're going to be around for a long time," Brohard said. "But that shouldn't stop us from trying to put the dining room out of business by giving people the job skills to be selfsufficient."

Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, http://bit.lv/2mf1NVC

Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.heraldreview.com

By THERESA CHURCHILL, HERALD & REVIEW

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Author:Churchill, Theresa
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Apr 10, 2017
Words:459
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