Monday’s snowstorm created an unusual problem for Washington Street United Methodist Church’s soup kitchen: There were no homeless to feed.
They were all stranded at Columbia’s winter homeless shelter, where icy conditions made it impossible to transport them back to Columbia’s downtown.
And Columbia’s homeless shelter was originally designed to store large trucks and other public works equipment, not feed hundreds of people.
So the church, with eight volunteers, made 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and 300 ham sandwiches — all of which made it to the shelter in time for lunch.
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"And we’re doing the same thing tomorrow," said Alan-Jon Zupan, who coordinates the soup kitchen for the church.
Washington Street United Methodist is one of about 17 churches that participate in the soup kitchen program. Monday is usually its day to cook.
Sodexo, the food service provider for the University of South Carolina, will provide evening meals for the homeless shelter. The company will provide the meals at cost, said David Kunz, executive director of The Cooperative Ministry, which operates the city’s winter shelter.
The city’s winter shelter, on Calhoun Street next to the city’s water plant, is at capacity. Columbia officials have opened up the gym at the Martin Luther King park in Five Points for anyone who needs shelter.
"There isn’t anybody that has been turned away for shelter," Kunz said. "I can’t imagine a scenario where that would happen."