Soup kitchen relies on donations to feed thousands every week

Soup kitchen relies on donations to feed thousands every week
For over 20 years, Sandra Smith has helped feed thousands of homeless neighbors who depend on nutrition services at the Urban Ministry Center.
 “I was a security guard assigned here by my employer, but quickly became very involved in helping in the kitchen and with the volunteers,” said Smith. “I really enjoy helping people who are in need and experiencing homelessness.”
Now, as the soup kitchen director, Smith is responsible for ensuring every neighbor who visits the center looking for a hot meal is fed.  
“Sandra’s been a gift to us for a long time. She not only had a heart for the work, she had the food knowledge needed to serve so many people so quickly and consistently,” said Dale Mullennix, executive director at the Urban Ministry Center.
The Urban Ministry Center is an organization dedicated to bringing the community together to end homelessness. On an average day, the organization provides lunch for up to 325 people.
“While there are several other programs or churches that offer meals at different times, we are the only soup kitchen open every single day. We are a very reliable source of food for everyone,” said Smith.
The Urban Ministry Center is one of over 700 partner agencies receiving food from Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. Second Harvest annually distributes over 54 million pounds of food and other items to shelters, soup kitchens and pantries throughout a 19-county service region.
“About 75% of the food we use in our kitchen is from Second Harvest,” said Smith. “Every Thursday, I shop the warehouse and purchase items by the pound – items we could not afford otherwise.”
From April 29 to June 8, you can donate canned or nonperishable food during the 9 Food Drive at any WSOC-TV Family Focus partner locations: Ashley HomeStore, Showmars and E.R. Plumbing Services. Find a donation location near you by following this link. 
Because the Food Bank supplies food and essential grocery items to hundreds of agencies, a monetary donation helps all of these organizations. For every $1 the food bank receives, they distribute 7 pounds of food. You can donate now by clicking on this link.
Learn more about the 9 Food Drive at
If your organization or business would like to get involved or help with 9 Food Drive, or you have an inspiring story to share, please email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV community affairs manager, at