Would you pass up a free lunch?

United States
June 27, 2010 4:22pm CST
Every so often I see this sign outside of a local church that says "Soup's on Us", advirtising a free lunch. I'd never been before, even though I had previously thought about checking it out. Well this week was hard on us financially, and hit us hardest in the grocery area. Although my bank account had plenty of money in it before I went to the store, by the time I got to the checkout my account was overdrawn due to car insurance hitting twice (the second time was bounced, so we actually only paid it once, but we still got hit with overdraw fees).. so we were unable to buy any food for the week... ouch!! So after the grocery fiasco on Friday I drove up to the canal for a walk, which is when I saw the sign that the church was doing their free soup lunch on Saturday. I figured it would be a great idea to stop by. I was a little nervous walking in, because I'd never done this before, but the people were all very nice. They had a few tables set up, and told us to just sit down and they'll bring our food to us. We could choose between chicken noodle soup or chili. We all chose chicken noodle which was very good. There was bread and crackers already on the table. Adults could have some coffee, and they brought some juice for all the kids. Since we were the first there, one of the ladies sat down and began talking with me, asking where we live and general chit chat. Then she informed me that this free lunch thing they do is once a month.. and in July and August they plan on doing hot dogs and hamburgers! So the kids finished their soup, bread and a few handfuls of crackers each, then the lady brought them out some ice cream with chocolate syrup! All in all a very enjoyable experience, and it couldn't have been at a better time for us. I think I will take advantage of it from now on whenever they have it. Even when we have grocery money, I could always use a free lunch for my family.. it is expensive feeding 5 kids! I might even bring my FIL because I was thinking of him the whole time, thinking how much he'd enjoy such a thing. Any churches or organizations in your area offer a free lunch? Have you ever been? Would you go if you knew of one?
1 person likes this
23 responses
@lacieice (2065)
• United States
27 Jun 10
Hi kats. I used to work in a group home for mentally ill substance abusers. Their money came from SSI and welfare, so they didn't really have much. The organization charged them to stay there, and the amount of money we received for food depended on how many were living there at any given time. They ate pretty good...we made sure of that, but just to stretch for food budget out a bit, we used to take them to a church down the street on Saturdays for a free lunch. The food was good and plentiful, but I ate only a little. I felt that I really didn't need to eat free, since my husband and I made a pretty good income, and I also felt others needed it more than me. Then, on Thanksgiving each year, the Red Cross in the city got all the major hotels to provide all organizations like ours with a free Holiday dinner. I mean they went all out. Turkey, ham, potatoes, veggies, coffee, desserts...just about anything you can imagine that goes with a Holiday dinner. The tables were set with linen tablecloths and napkins, china dishes, real glasses, and silverware. These dinners were not shoved in a corner somewhere...they were held in the big ballrooms of the hotels. The guys were amazed. Many had never seen a set-up like that before. A lot of very poor, homeless, and handicapped people had a very good time that day. I no longer work there, but the tradition continues, and I hope it goes on for a long time.
• United States
27 Jun 10
What a nice story.. thanks for sharing it. I too do not feel comfortable getting a free meal.. even when I do need it, I guess it's my pride. I know my older children weren't "full" after their soup and bread, but I did not allow them to get seconds, even though the people there said it was okay. It was nice to get free soup.. I didn't want to take advantage of it.
@lacieice (2065)
• United States
27 Jun 10
I do completely understand how you felt about it, but you did need it, and I probably would have let the children get more if they needed it. I'm sure they had plenty to offer...these places are prepared to feed as many as they can. In fact, the time I was there, I got the feeling I hurt their feelings because I did not eat more lol.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Jun 10
I have been in a better financial place.. and in a worse financial place.. and for some reason I just don't accept that we're this broke, lol. I act like we have money, and am ashamed anytime I "show" that we're poor, such as when I use my food stamp card or something like that. Guess I'm just too proud.. but never so proud that I will make my kids suffer.. obviously we went to this lunch, and we borrowed money from my father in law for groceries for the week.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
29 Jun 10
I suppose for me it depends on where it is coming from. I don't have children so I can be selective about where my meals are coming from. I don't really want to focus on that that in this response though. I am more concerned about you and what you and your kids will eat for the rest of the week. The fact that the insurance payment hit twice is NOT your fault, it is theirs and those charges should be removed and your money refunded and you need to complain to both the bank and the insurance company until it happens! There are a number of places that provide free lunch and there are all sorts of creative ways to save money on groceries, even with five kids. Maybe you should apply for food stamps.
• United States
29 Jun 10
I appreciate your helpful advice.. of course you must realize that I've already thought of these things. Financial difficulties are not something that is new to my family.
@Canellita (12058)
• United States
29 Jun 10
Well, I guess it not being new is a good thing for you in a way. I hope things level off.
• United States
29 Jun 10
It's only good because I know how to handle it... though it gets exhausting always figuring out how you're going to afford necessities.
@cynthiann (18619)
• Jamaica
29 Jun 10
Quite simply - if my kids needed it then I would take it. I have taken donated tinned food to our Church in the past on the odd occasion. When things were tough. Then when I can, I help with the feeding of the homeless. You have to do what you have to do and sometimes we ave to swallow our pride. We have to deal with the side of life that faces us and just do the best we can. Take advantage of it when you need it. I am glad that you saw the sign. One day you may be dong what they are doing and you will remember with thanks the kindness that was shown to you. God often uses people to help people and both sets of people feel blessed.
• United States
29 Jun 10
I wish I were in a position to help others.. that is so much nicer than being in the position of needing help!
@cynthiann (18619)
• Jamaica
29 Jun 10
One day you will be. Just as you want to help others then others want to help you so don't deny them the pleasure of helping. We can help other people just by a smile or a kind word - especially to the old and lonely person where you live. Sometimes people just want someone to listen and when they vent then they feel better.
• United States
29 Jun 10
That is true. One day in the winter a year or so ago we brought the kids sledding in town. A car pulled up and an old man got out alone. Hubby and I were a little nervous, we're overprotective and I'm neurotic about child predators already. Seems the old man just wanted someone to talk to because he stayed there chatting with us about all sorts of stuff until we decided we were cold and wanted to leave. Although we remained nervous the entire time, we did chat pleasantly with him.. and felt good afterwards that we probably made his day by allowing him to chat with us.
@skysuccess (8882)
• Singapore
29 Jun 10
katsmeow1213, This is a very good gesture on the part of your church indeed. As for my church, we are ever trying to provide free tuition for children whose parents are both at work, due the economic demands of the family. On one hand, the children will be guided by older children and teachers for their homework while the other they can be cared for and distract them from from mixing with bad company. And in their spare time, would do community service for the aged left alone in the houses by their working children. So, there will be spring cleaning activities, laundry and packing of the houses. The program is so successful that it is now being adopted by our neighboring countries. We do not have a free meal program but I think it would be great to organize one especially for the destitute or jobless which will have difficulty having a proper meal a day.
• United States
29 Jun 10
Is there some form of income requirements to get this free tuition? I mean, most families with 2 incomes are a lot more well off than families with single incomes.. so I would home it's only the low income double working parent families that get this free tuition while those families who aren't low income need to pay for the services.
• Singapore
29 Jun 10
katsmeow1213, There is no restrictions and/or income ceilings, besides, these families are really not better off economically because their income are basically low and are all living in subsidized housing estates. Also, these tuition and care centers are being run by my church group and most of these tutors and teachers are volunteers. The primary objective being that the children do not while away their free time and mix with bad company or become juvenile delinquents. Over the years families have benefited much, especially those half way house children who were saved from certain disastrous fates. I suppose God's hands is at work and families are pouring funds voluntarily to enhance the works so I would say it has been good and worthwhile.
• United States
29 Jun 10
Okay.. I understand. I believe we do have programs like this in some of our larger cities, though it's not run by a church (though some churches may do this that I'm not aware of). We have a non-profit organization that I believe is nation wide and it's called The Boys And Girls club, I know they have a center in the city near where I live and I believe they have after school activities so that the kids stay out of trouble.
• India
28 Jun 10
I wouldn’t mind going for free lunch but the quality has to be good. I guess in your places there’s no question of poor quality but in India a lot of temples and other religious places hold regular free lunch for the poor but I feel the quality is not that good. I’ve been to a few such places…not coz I couldn’t buy food but mainly it was the festive season and we were doing rounds of temples and they were serving lunch and inviting one and all and it just felt so rude and snobbish to turn them down…however, on other similar tours, I’ve been to certain other monasteries which too served free food where the quality was really very good. Simple vegetarian fare but very wholesome and tasty. BTW...how are you with finances now…things looking brighter? Are you going to be here or do you plan to go ahead with disconnecting the net? Also, I must say it was very nice of you to think of your FIL after all that I’ve ‘heard’ of him!
• United States
28 Jun 10
Whoever said beggers can't be choosers must have never been a begger! Trust me I know how it feels. We've gotten food from pantries before that give us canned and boxed foods to prepare at home.. and it's always junk nobody ever wants to eat. I usually end up giving most of it back anonomously, lol. We may be broke, but we still have taste. We've decided to leave the internet on for now, as it's too important to live without. But our finances are not turned around yet.. it will be a few weeks before we're caught up.
• India
29 Jun 10
for deciding to stay here...things will definitely look up soon
@Jstewart (167)
• United States
27 Jun 10
i enjoyed your story, I was waiting for some point where they started forcing thier views on God. But. It does not sound like that was the case. I am happy to hear that you were able to feed your family with there generosity. It always makes me happy to know that the human race has still some sense of decency. I have not ever gone to one of those type of funtions. we do have a have a coffee with the mayor on fridays. and there are churchs where I have see similar signs. I would certainly take advantage of the oppurtunity for a free lunch if I were in your shoes. Again happy to hear it went well for you. sounds like they were some genuine pepole.
• United States
27 Jun 10
The lady was telling me it is typically only seniors that go to these things.. and I had thought of that before walking in there.. I half thought I'd be the youngest adult there. Half way through our meal others finally started coming in, and it was mostly seniors though it appears one of those seniors brought their adult child who brought 2 little babies with them... so it wasn't as bad as I feared, lol.
@Jstewart (167)
• United States
27 Jun 10
I would'nt let that get to you they were probley happy to see some younger faces. :)
• United States
28 Jun 10
There are quite a few church groups that offer free lunch as well as the YWCA here in my home town althought I have never attended one I have often thought about sending my kids there but I am not 100% sure on it just because we do live in a small town and people like to talk so I wouldn't want my kids to be embarrassed or teased by other because they are at the free lunch program. I do pretty decent with the kids meals during the summer although it isn't the best because most of the time it is the cheapest I can find like Oodles and Noodles,sandwiches or speghetti O type lunches. I am not sure what all they offer for the free lunch programs as far as food although I think it is more than soup like your kitchen but I am sure not more than that and I am thinking that it is offered daily because I know that the sign sits out front of the building quite often. I think it is so nice when cities can offer this especially in the summer when they kids have so much time but I am not sure if I will send my kids or not because I think my son might eat more than allowed LOL
• United States
28 Jun 10
We live in a small town too.. but my kids aren't too concerned about being embarassed. They're fully aware that we're broke and can't afford certain things. I know other kids can be mean.. I grew up poor so was subjected to teasing, and while growing up my community was much larger. Why don't you just ask the kids how they'd feel about going to a free lunch? Maybe it wouldn't bother them as much as you think.
• United States
28 Jun 10
I've never heard of a "free lunch" thru a church. The only things I hear of are food ministries/pantries or soup kitchens they run. I was to a soup kitchen a time or two when a neighbor of ours too us there when I was a kid. I had no idea what it was... you know a "buffet" or cafeteria set up. I'm always leary of doing such things with being a non-practicing Christian that someone would be in your face over joining their church ect. Though, I've often told MIL that I'd love to volunteer to help at places like that in exchange for a meal or whatever... but I don't want to join their church to do it nor do I want to be told no because the kids would need to be elsewhere KWIM?
@Bellapop (1281)
27 Jun 10
I really am unsure about this one, I am always wary if something is given away for free, depending on what it was of course. I've been given free sweets before with no issues, but I have been given a big free toy by a shop once, I was really hesitating on whether to accept it... we were also sent a fre pack of cereal once, it was just pushed in through the letter box with the rest of the post, with no letter, note or anything to explain. Although the box was sealed, and as it was a food item to be eaten (therefore going into your body internally) we thought it was better to be safe than to be tempted to eat them, as there was absolutely no reason why they were just pushed through the letterbox, ok, they came with the ost, so the postmen was the one who had it, so surely maybe it was a promotion of some kind...? But still, we threw it away in the end, just to be on the safe side - we cut out the money off coupon from the box though! So, coming back to the free-lunch part, I think for the same reasons as the cereal box scenario, I wouldn't reallt think about going in for a free lunch. I suppose, if I was desperate and homeless and if I had been hungry for days, then a definite yes...
• United States
28 Jun 10
I see no reason to be wary of food offered by a church.
@snowy22315 (49066)
• United States
27 Jun 10
I usually enjoy a free lunch. Sometimes we get stuff donated at work and we will take it home for dinner or eat it at the office. Times are kind of tough these days and if someone has food to donate I will usually take part. I also bring food in or to others if I have it, so it works both ways.
• United States
27 Jun 10
Sharing is very nice! I've gotten donated food on occasion. Also the neighbors I used to live next door to would occasionally bring me their church's left overs, and I'd give that to my kids for lunch. I'll never pass up free food, lol!
@dorannmwin (36698)
• United States
30 Jun 10
There is actually at least one church that I know of here in Lexington that offers free sack lunches at least once a month, but we've never taken advantage of it. In addition to that, I know that there are several sites here in town that are offering free lunch to children during the week through the summer break. I've thought about taking the children for a free lunch a couple of times, but we've yet to do it.
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
29 Jun 10
That would be, in order, I don't no, no I haven't, and yes I would if money was that tight, but since it isn't, I wouldn't.
@jillhill (37383)
• United States
28 Jun 10
The Catholic church in town has something called Loaves and Fishes. They have it every Wed. all year long and anyone is welcome to come. I have never went as I haven't needed to but I think it would be fun to sit down and meet some new people. You should take advantage of something like this....and I bet your FIL would enjoy it!
• Hardy, Arkansas
28 Jun 10
Churches do this to help people in the community. They understand that times are tough and they try to help people out. It also gets people in the door that may eventually join their church. Other individuals and organizations do it to promote themselves or their business such as the local auto auction has free beans and corn bread on their auction day. I see nothing wrong with taking advantage of these offers. The business and individuals want to get you in the door in the hopes that you will do business with them in the future.
• United States
28 Jun 10
I would never pass up a free lunch I know how you feel about your finacial situation I have been there and it was no fun!! I just thank God that there are local Churches and places that offer you free food and help for services like bills and things It is a wonderful thing!!! We have some Churches here that help you with groceries all you have to do is watch a 45 minute documentary and say a prayer and they give you food you can choose what you want and there is also a place here that gives you so many vouchers for food, maybe you can check in your local area for places like these they have also helped me with electric bill and gas cards. I wish you and your family the best of luck and God Bless You!!
@cher913 (25890)
• Canada
28 Jun 10
hey, how nice of that church to do that. i think more churches should be doing this (including my own too!) i would go if i had the need to.
@mauie0918 (339)
• Philippines
28 Jun 10
Occasionally, our organization has this feeding program. Going to the poorest village in our place and feed them. Sometimes we go to the jail house and give them food. But if there will be a free lunch, breakfast or dinner then I think it's not bad to join the group who will have the free meal! In my experience, sometimes if there are free taste in the supermarket/grocery store, I do admit that I try to check this out and have some free taste.
@calai618 (1781)
• Philippines
28 Jun 10
It depends upon the availability and the efficiency. Most of the time I would just pass on it because a lot of people deserve it more than me. There are also times when there are a lot of people in the area and it would be more practical to just by a lunch for yourself than wait for your turn on the free ones. But definitely, it's always a good thing to have such institutions generous enough to give out free meals.
@Opal26 (17690)
• United States
28 Jun 10
Hi kats, I think that is great that you found such a wonderful place for you and your family to go for a nice meal. Every little bit of saved money helps. I sure know that and it's just me! I'm glad that you will be able to go again. Take advantage of the opportunity to relax and save money and you get a chanced to be served! What more could you ask for!
• Philippines
28 Jun 10
i haven't heard of such free lunch or meal in our church organizations. they just prepare free meals during a special and super special celebrations, i just don't kow if everyone is invited for that for i haven't come to any of it. but if the free lunch is done your awy, i would like to grab the opputunity to cut the cost of my meal and to enjoy the environment of new people as well. but here in our place we have common traditions and others celebrate it so well that they prepare a lot of food and they invite almost all of their friends. i have been invited on those occasions frequently and i enjoy it a lot coz there is variety of foods to choose from and its very festive!