ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ)–September marks Hunger Action Month, which aims to take a stand against hunger. For 32 years, St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen in Altoona has kept to that mission.
The kitchen on Union Ave serves over 100 people a balanced meal. That meal consists of protein, vegetables, dessert, and drink.
Sister Paula Delgrosso has been running the kitchen for 32 years. She said that a kitchen like hers is needed in every community.
“There’s always a need. You know, and there always will be, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” DelGrosso said. “Some say, ” Well, I didn’t know we had people in our community.” There’s no shame in that. The shame is that we don’t do something to help.”
Those that walk through the kitchen’s doors will not be asked anything or judged. However, folks must follow the rules that Sister Paula has in place, which she said is what most families do.
Monday through Friday, at least a dozen volunteers cook enough food to serve the people. Evelyn Shannon has been working in the kitchen for ten years, and she loves every second of it.
Every meal that Shannon prepares, she thinks about how she would serve her family. She wants to provide a delicious meal made with love.
“I’ve always believed that the way to cook is to cook with love. And that’s how I cook it. I cook with love,” Shannon said. “It’s always an excellent meal. I’ve had so many compliments from so many patrons thanking me for providing a meal.”
But Shannon said she couldn’t complete all the work without her co-workers. Larry Mcintire has been volunteering at the kitchen for 11 years. He does a bit of everything at the location, including serve.
All the volunteers said they always get compliments from those who come and express their gratitude and appreciation. Mcintire agrees that more people need to be aware of places like the kitchen.
“This is tremendously a necessary part of our community,” Mcintire said. “We have an obligation to take care of folks that are not as fortunate as we are.”
After spending two and a half years serving meals outdoors, they finally moved their operations back indoors. The kitchen being indoors gives a sense of community and engagement.
Sister Paula noted that those who come to the kitchen could live alone, but when they enter the kitchen, they are met with warm welcomes and conversations with those attending.
“The people were happy to come inside,” Delgrosso said. “A lot of them are by themselves, and they have friends there. They can talk. They’re really happy to get back inside.”
Community members Nick Telesco and Tammy Askey have been coming to the kitchen for a while. They love the diversity the place brings and the delicious food they receive. The community that walks into the kitchen is what keeps them coming back.
“Inside, you get to know everybody and feel a part of a community,” Telesco said. “People you wouldn’t normally run into, you’re going to run into those people here. So it’s very diverse.”
“I love everybody here,” Askey said. “All I have to do is come in here, and people say, “Hi Tammy, Hi Tammy, How are you doing, Tammy?” It brings me back all the time.”
The kitchen is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.