BRISTOL - On Thursday, May 4th, 2017, the Bristol Salvation Army held a ceremony dedicating their newly renovated soup kitchen. Originally opened in 1982, the proposition of The Salvation Army opening a soup kitchen in Bristol was met with hostility from townspeople. At the time, a petition with more than 300 signatures opposing the soup kitchen was presented to the City Council.
Major Lorena Jackson, who was the Bristol Corps officer in 1982, fought hard to bring the soup kitchen to Bristol. Emotions boiled over at one meeting where angry neighbors stormed out midway though. At the meeting, Major Jackson spoke to those in attendance, “The world is changing, and The Salvation Army must change too in order to help those in need.”
The soup kitchen officially opened in October of 1982 with a pot of vegetable soup. 35 people were fed on the first day. On a bulletin board in the soup kitchen a verse from Proverbs 21:13 was posted, “He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his time of need.”
In 1983, lines of people could be seen outside of the Bristol Salvation Army building waiting for the USDA Cheese Giveaway Program. By 1985, the soup kitchen was serving between 800-900 residents each month. Throughout the program’s history, donations of food and money from corporate and community donors, as well as area churches, have helped provide thousands of people with hot, nutritious meals.
In June of 2016, Lieutenants Emmanual and Shareena Echavarria were welcomed to Bristol as the new administrators. Their first task - the renovation of the soup kitchen. In January of 2017, the renovation began, and just a few short months later in March, the renovation was completed.
Last year, The Salvation Army in Bristol fed 80-100 people per day and provided services to 2,621 people. At Christmas, 1,079 people were fed and 3,038 toys were distributed to children in need. With the completion of the new state-of-the-art kitchen, the Bristol Salvation Army hopes to help even more people in the community that are in need of assistance.
Major Lorena Jackson, now retired, was honored at the ceremony and stated, “It’s not about me. It’s about the Lord. We are in the Lord’s business of helping and caring for people. We need to keep this going until Jesus comes.”
The Bristol Salvation Army is located at 19 Stearns Street, Bristol, Connecticut. To learn more, click here.