Albertsons Souper Bowl of Caring fills Isaiah’s Kitchen’s pantry
Seven privately owned pickups were lined up by their owners in front of Albertsons grocery store in Hobbs at 10 a.m. Saturday. The pickups were there to be loaded with groceries collected by Albertsons during its most recent Souper Bowl of Caring, a food drive held during the two-month run-up before the Super Bowl.
Once loaded, the drivers and owners of the pickups became part of a caravan destined for Isaiah’s Kitchen, a local feeding station that serves hungry, sometimes homeless people two hot meals each day, Monday through Friday. Once each month, it also provides boxes of food that help senior citizens and others down on their luck survive what has been called, “food insecurity.”
Steven Luna, assistant manager at Albertsons, said customers from Hobbs and the surrounding area provided between 5,000 and 7,000 pounds of groceries for Isaiah’s Kitchen.
“We packed their pantry,” Luna said. “It’s absolutely full. But I want people to know that this was an effort of the whole community. This store is part of the United Family of Stores. We provided man power and organization, but the community is responsible for the amount of food we delivered.”
Store customers who wanted to contribute had the option of providing actual food products or providing cash with which food products could be bought. Those products included rice, pinto beans, canned green beans, macaroni and other non-perishable items.
Luna said each of the 96 stores with United Family of Stores in New Mexico and west Texas participated in food drives in the area each serves.
“It’s not a contest,” Luna said. “None of our store volunteers receive anything for the work they do giving to the community we serve.”
While there may be no tangible reward for those who volunteered, the gratitude of workers at Isaiah’s Kitchen was lavish.
Larry Flores, who described himself as a maintenance worker at the facility, was in a back room filling boxes for the food distribution, which takes place on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“It’s so full back here, we can’t move around,” Luna said. “It’s great. On second and fourth Wednesdays, we give boxes of food to senior citizens,” Flores said. “On second and fourth Thursdays, we give boxes of food to what we call our regulars.”
“Each recipient gets one box of food each month,” Flores said. “They come in and sign in and that’s all that’s required.”
Monica Charles, who prepares breakfast and lunch at the kitchen, said she feeds breakfast to about 50 people each morning and about 100 at lunch.
Monday, she and a volunteer were cutting slices of cake, some white and some carrot cake, and the lasagna that was to be the entreé for lunch was in the oven.
“We’ll have a salad, too,” she said. “We have people we really get to know come in for meals. This is a Christian-based ministry and we want to know the people who come here.”
Another worker, who did not want his name in the paper, said Isaiah’s Kitchen uses volunteers “all the time. Some of them are sentenced to community service for some reason or other and then they come back to be volunteers.”
Workers provided the names of other donors who provide items needed by Isaiah’s Kitchen. They include boxes by the hundreds, unsold food from several restaurants, paper plates and plastic cutlery.
“We use everything and count on them to support us. They constantly bless us,” Charles said.