Catholic Schools Week (part 2)
Second and third graders at St. Luke's making minestrone soup for Emmaus Soup Kitchen.

The second and third graders at St. Luke's Catholic School made minestrone soup for the Emmaus Soup Kitchen during Catholic Schools Week, January 29 - February 2.

While learning that if each person brings a small item, they can create a healthy meal for many, the inquisitive second and third graders of St. Luke's had a lot of questions about Emmaus Ministries. Breanna Mekuly, Emmaus staff member, responded the best she could. Here's how some of the conversations went:

Student: How many people come to the soup kitchen?
Breanna: There are about 250 people who come to the soup kitchen each day.

How do you make food for that many people in one day?
Our cook, Shirley, along with her helper, Marie, cook all morning and afternoon to prepare enough food.

Where does the food come from?
The food comes from people like you, who give a little of whatever they have to make sure that others don't go hungry.

How many people work at Emmaus?
Well, there's a small group of people who work full-time for Emmaus. Beyond them, we have at least 300 people who volunteer at Emmaus.

Is the soup kitchen open every day?
We are open Monday-Friday for dinner and on Saturdays for lunch.

What do you do on holidays?
Yes. We make a big celebration out of the holidays and make it homey and serve special food, just like your family might do.

But do you close on the holidays?
Not always. For example, we have a great group of volunteers who celebrate Christmas on a different day than we do (Church of the Nativity) so they always work on Christmas day.

Do you only serve soup?
Oh no! We serve much more than just soup. Each day, we try to have a meat, a potato, a salad or vegetable, soup, desert, and we always have extra bread with peanut butter and jelly just in case someone doesn't like the main meal.

What meals do you serve?
Well, what are your favorite meals? We serve things people like you really like - so hamburgers and hotdogs and fish and meatballs and chicken patties and more. Our guests' favorite food is lasagna!

But… why is it called a soup kitchen if they serve more than soup?
That's a good question - I think it's because when Emmaus first started out they were mostly just serving soup and simple sandwiches, like peanut butter and jelly.

Why did the soup kitchen start?
Emmaus opened our soup kitchen in 1974 because some of the sisters who were living in the area noticed that there were hungry men living in the area. In the evenings, some of these men would knock at the back door of the sisters' home and ask for a sandwich. The sisters thought "if this man is hungry, there must be others who are hungry, too" so they opened a soup kitchen as a place for people who were poor and hungry to come get a warm meal.

How many is the most amount of people you've served in a day? And the least?
One day we served over 300 adults and 70 children! That's more than half the people in your school… and on Saturdays much less people come to the soup kitchen for a meal - so sometimes there are only about 50 or so.

Do people who are hurt (who have crutches or wheelchairs or special needs) come?
Yes. The soup kitchen is accessible for anyone who is hungry. Some people use wheelchairs, others use canes.

Who eats at a soup kitchen? Only people who are homeless? If they have a home, can they still come to the kitchen?
People who are hungry and do not have enough means or resources to get food on their own come to the soup kitchen to eat. Sometimes these people are homeless, but many have a place to live - like an apartment or a house. But sometimes these places they are living do not have kitchens with stoves, fridges or even microwaves. That makes it difficult for people to cook and store their own food.

The children also had a couple fun (and random!) questions, such as:

How many pieces of popcorn can you fit in your mouth at one time?
Um… I really don't know. I've never tried!

And: Do you think that in real life, the people who were the voices of Mickey and Minnie got married?
Well… I really have no clue… did they?
(It's true… I looked it up. Wayne Allwine, who was the voice actor for Mickey Mouse, married Russi Taylor, the voice actor for Minnie Mouse in 1991.)

Pictured: Second and third graders at St. Luke's making minestrone soup for Emmaus Soup Kitchen.