A History of Soup Kitchens – April 2014

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia describes a soup kitchen as follows: “a place where food is offered to the poor or homeless for free or at reasonably low price.  Frequently located in lower income neighborhoods, they are often staffed by volunteer organizations such as church groups or other community groups.  Soup kitchens sometimes obtain food from a food bank for free or at a low price because they are considered a charity.”

Downtown Daily bread fits most of that description.  DDB feeds the poor and homeless for free and obtain most of its food from the local food bank. DDB is also staffed by volunteer churches.  However, we are located in the heart of the city, across from the state capitol, rather than in the typical low income neighborhood.

Soup kitchens have been providing nourishment to the poor and hungry since the eighteenth century. “Soup” became a popular staple when Count Rumford created a low-cost nutritionally sound soup for the Bavarian military.  The popularity of his soups spread across Europe initially to feed the army but were eventually used to feed the poor.  The soup kitchen concept made its way to the United States and in 1802 The Humane Society of New York founded one of the earliest soup kitchens in this country.

The concept of soup kitchens hit the mainstream of U.S. consciousness during the Great Depression.  Soup kitchens became a part of daily life for millions during the 1930’s.  They were immortalized in numerous poems, songs, and stories. Al Capone, the famous Chicago mobster, sponsored a soup kitchen at that time in an effort to clean up his image. Soup kitchens waned, however, as government income support and food programs were established.  In the early 1980’s, when numerous reports of increased hunger surfaced, kitchens once again opened in large numbers.  Downtown Daily Bread was one of those kitchens.  DDB opened its doors in 1983.  This year we celebrate 30 years of service to the community.

-Elaine Strokoff, DDB Executive Director

Categories Monthly Bites | Tags: | Posted on August 7, 2013

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Service Times & Directions

  • Kitchen is open for lunch from 12:30pm-1:30pm
  • Volunteers should expect to stay from 12:00pm-2:00pm
  • For drop off: Cook is in the kitchen from (M-F) 7:30am-3:00pm (Sat, Sun) 8:00am-3:00pm
  • Chris Patrick and Cynthia Swanson Office Hours (M-F) 8:00am-3:00pm

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Downtown Daily Bread

234 South Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
(717) 238-4717 phone (717) 232-9341 fax