Good Morning Friends of the Soup Kitchen of Muncie! My name is Clare Chatot. I am in my 7th year as a member of the Board of Directors for the Soup Kitchen. During this time, I was Vice President of the Board for 2 years and am currently in my 4th year as Board President. I am an Emerita Professor of Biology at Ball State University and my husband and I belong to St. Mary Parish. Service has always been an important part of my life at Ball State, in my church community, and in the Muncie community.
I have been familiar with the Soup Kitchen of Muncie since its founding in 1994 by Father William Grady and parishioners from St. Mary Parish, however, I did not realize all the wonderful work the Soup Kitchen of Muncie (then the Harvest Soup Kitchen) was accomplishing for the Muncie Community. I learned more about the Soup Kitchen as time went on since my children helped pack sack lunches for the kitchen in their Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and also as part of their youth group community ministry at church. One of the boys in our Scout Troop even painted the Soup Kitchen walls as his Eagle Project. When I received my first annual appeal request in the late 2000’s to donate to the Soup Kitchen, my husband and I decided to become annual financial supporters of the Soup Kitchen.
Late in 2014, I received a letter from the President of the Soup Kitchen Board of Directors asking if I would be interested in serving on the Board and after some prayerful reflection and discussion with my husband, I decided that this was a community service organization that I could be dedicated to.
What stood out for me about the Soup Kitchen was that they serve the Muncie community in an inclusive way. Our mission is to feed the hungry of the Muncie Community without regard to race, gender, sexuality, or religious preference. Anyone in need of a meal can come to the Soup Kitchen, Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 11 am, and receive a healthy hot meal and a sack lunch (that always includes meat, fresh vegetables, and fruit) no questions asked. It is critical to me that we serve the homeless, the unemployed, those not fully employed, single men and women, families with children and any others in our community who are food insecure.
My biggest surprise when I joined the Board in January of 2015 was the enormity of the need in the Muncie community. As a working Board, we organize and run our fundraising campaigns and our community events in addition to overseeing the Soup Kitchen as a nonprofit organization to help meet this need. With the onset of the pandemic, we joined with other service organizations in the community to help those in need of food and other resources. These collaborations have enhanced all of our abilities to serve the hungry in Muncie. I enjoy sharing information about the amazing work the Soup Kitchen does making more people aware of our need for their time, talent, and/or treasure so we can continue to feed the hungry.
My personal commitment to the Soup Kitchen has increased since I retired from Ball State last May! I am now also a volunteer at the kitchen one afternoon a week to help prepare meals for serving our visitors the next morning! I love this aspect of my service and learn something new about cooking healthy meals for large numbers every time I am at the kitchen. We are working with a skeleton crew of 2 per morning and afternoons shifts during the pandemic to prepare, cook, and serve our meals and sack lunches. I look forward to the day when we can expand the number of volunteers per shift at the kitchen as the comradery that our volunteers develop increases their dedication and boosts the success of the Soup Kitchen.
My involvement with the Soup Kitchen of Muncie has been extremely rewarding for me as a Board member and as a volunteer in the kitchen. I look forward to many more years of service to the Soup Kitchen of Muncie and to the hungry in need in the Muncie Community.