Sometimes there is a need so glaring that it tends to be overlooked. Sometimes a problem is so great, that it is not faced because people assume that someone, somewhere is taking care of it. Too often that problem is hunger and for many in Cleburne County that hunger has been overlooked or, in many cases, ignored. That is until now.
The local community has come together to provide Cleburne County with a soup kitchen, aptly named “Breakin Bread.” Spearheaded by Pastor Tommy Toombs of the First United Methodist Church, the soup kitchen will be located in the old OES building at 714 Scott St. in Heber Springs. Toombs began pulling together the idea of a soup kitchen last September. “I knew there were so many kids on assisted lunches,” said Toombs. “The school takes care of them for breakfast and lunch, but what are they doing on Friday?” After compiling information on the poverty level in Cleburne County, it was determined that there was a need that wasn’t being fulfilled and the soup kitchen project was born.
The sole purpose of the kitchen will be to feed people, regardless of income, beliefs, or lifestyle. “If you’re hungry, come and eat. If you’re not hungry but just want something to eat, come and eat,” said Toombs. Preconceived judgments and proselytizing should be left at the door. “You’re gonna have folks coming in here that haven’t bathed in a week. You’re gonna have folks coming in here that’s cooking dope, with their children. You’re gonna have battered wives,” said Toombs. “We serve everybody, expecting absolutely nothing back.” There will be no preaching to those who go to the kitchen. There will be no crosses, Bibles, or religious literature and there will be no pressure or expectation of religious commitment or discussion. Those who wish to discuss this with organizers or volunteers are welcome to do so, but it is on their terms and their interests. There is only one purpose for “Breakin Bread” – to feed the hungry.
The building is being rented from the county and members of the community donated all furniture and accessories. The kitchen has submitted applications to the Arkansas Food Bank and Arkansas Rice Depot. Local food providers have either donated supplies or provided them at reduced costs to get the kitchen ready.
Volunteers are encouraged and are welcome to help as their time allows. “You don’t have to be in a local congregation somewhere to come and volunteer. If you have a heart to do that, that you can help someone by doing that, then come down and volunteer,” said Toombs.
Page 2 of 2 - “Breakin Bread” is scheduled to officially begin serving on Friday evening, March 22. Everyone is welcome to show up. If you’re are hungry, low on groceries, or just want to be a part of something special the local community is providing for its people -- then by all means, show up. For more information on the soup kitchen, contact the First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs at 501-362-2696