Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 13, 2012

Spreading 'Sonshine' weekly

Sonshine Soup Kitchen offers a free lunch

CROSSVILLE — People say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but for the past three years, Randy Neal and the folks at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Crossville have been busy proving the old adage wrong.

"We just like to offer something for the community that's free for anyone to enjoy, no matter what the income level," said Randy Neal, one of the founders of the Sonshine Soup kitchen.

Neal, John Short and David Yoder started the free lunch program three years ago through the Crossville First United Methodist Church shortly after the economy began to decline.

"Everybody can use some help, so we figured a free lunch one day a week would be a good way to help out," Neal said. "People know that for at least one day they don't have to worry about lunch."

The Sonshine Soup Kitchen serves a free lunch every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. at 69 Neecham St. next door to Crossville's First United Methodist Church. Everyone is welcome.

This past Wednesday, the group celebrated its third anniversary and volunteers and guests were also treated to a cake.

"My main reason for doing it is for the volunteers so they can have the experience of serving others. Jesus called upon us to serve others. Another big part of the reason we do it is so people can enjoy fellowship and a meal," Neal said.

Although the program is Christian and faith based, everyone is welcome to attend regardless of their faith or denomination.

There is an opening prayer at noon before the serving starts, but there are no devotions, lessons or programs. Occasionally a visitor may come who's traveling through the area.

"We have all sorts of people come here and we welcome everyone," Neal said.

The Sonshine Soup Kitchen is a partnership ministry with Fairfield Glade UMC, Crossville FUMC, Homestead UMC and faithful, generous individuals of Cumberland County. The churches and several individuals supply the food and donations that keep the program running.

Each Wednesday the group of dozens of volunteers serve everyone from the homeless, unemployed, underemployed, retired, or people who can't make ends meet, to those who are working in town and would like to enjoy a free meal.

"Food is available to anyone and no one is ever turned away. We will offer meals to all for free. Our guests do not need to meet any eligibility requirements. There are no signups or reservations required. We extend hospitality, friendship, and comfort to all of the guests. It's not a restaurant, though we will try to grant reasonable requests," Neal said.

The meal usually consists of a sandwich, soup, salad, chips, fruit cocktail and sometimes a dessert. However, meals can vary depending on what is available. The meal is prepared fresh, weekly by volunteers.

Once a month, the group also provides 80 lunches for folks at the Peavine Care Center in Crossville.

Neal said the group also provides a dinner Wednesday evening to the Hispanic congregation at the Crossville First United Methodist Church and a lunch for Bible study groups at the Crossville First United Methodist.

It's all done by volunteers for free.

The group usually prepares around 30 lunches, but more can be prepared quickly if the supply begins to run low.

"We don't expect anything in return. If you like us, tell your friends and bring them back with you next time," Neal said.

The Sonshine Soup Kitchen at 69 Neecham St. in downtown Crossville is open each Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. The public is welcome.

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