By Todd Cohen
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Just before Thanksgiving, Samaritan Soup Kitchen in Winston-Salem expects to serve its two-millionth meal.
The milestone reflects growing demand for services in the face of a nagging economic slump, says Jeff Hardin, development director of Samaritan Ministries, which operates the soup kitchen.
The kitchen, founded in early 1981 as a program of Crisis Control Ministry, served a record-high 129,900 meals last year, up 8,500 from 2001.
Samaritan Ministries, which formed a separate nonprofit in 1986 to operate the kitchen, also runs Samaritan Inn, a 69-bed homeless shelter for men that opened two years later, and Project Cornerstone, a long-term addiction-recovery program launched in 1996.
Samaritan Inn provided 24,482 nights of shelter in 2002, up 4 percent from 2001, while Project Cornerstone, which uses nine of the beds in the inn and serves residents for 12 months to 18 months, is full.
“We’re bursting at the seams,” says Hardin, who adds the nonprofit is looking at future fundraising options.
Samaritan’s annual budget has grown 30 percent over the last three years to $660,000, while its staff has grown to 11 from eight last year.
To celebrate the Soup Kitchen’s two-millionth meal, the N.C. School of the Arts Wind Ensemble has scheduled a free benefit performance for Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Stevens Center downtown. Donations are welcome.
Samaritan Ministries also has launched its annual “penny campaign” to collect coins in jars that will be dropped off at Thruway Center on Stratford Road on Dec. 6.
For information, call 336-748-1962.