SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Organic Soup Kitchen says it will be adding more daily lunches for those in need starting next week when the Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter makes a big cut back due to funding issues.
The organization says it needs more volunteers and donations, but it will soon be able to handled the expected demand of 150 more meals each day.
The group specializes in plant based, organic meals with soup, vegetables and breads.
"I wish were like FEMA where we could jump right in and save the day," said Anthony Carroccio with the Organic Soup Kitchen. "We are going to do the best we can and up our meals and start reaching out to the public."
At Santa Barbara's Pershing Park where several homeless men spend their day, one said the meals will be welcomed and other groups are already using the site too.
"It's always nice to have good people come down. They are always generous," said Gaston Doke who was in a wheel chair this afternoon.
His friend Michael Mallon warned that without a lunch program many of the people on the street will be panhandling, or possibly stealing to get a meal. He expected that to end up with an arrest. "Most definitely, it will fill up the jail cells," said Mallon.
For Robert Raseta who sits on a carpet in the shade of the restroom building, he says the donated food, "gives us energy. It makes us feel alive again."
When it comes to stretching a dollar, Carroccio says he has been able to get many servings out of each donation to his budget. "We can put out quite a few meals for a lot less money (than others)," he said.
Carroccio can usually be found in the kitchen space he rents at the Veterans Memorial Building stirring the soup or chopping vegetables, and says he is working on the project daily.
Currently he serves about 80 people there on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
If the program expands, he hopes to have other locations such as parks and churches to use new distribution sites.
For more information and to find out how you can donate and volunteer, contact the Organic Soup Kitchen at: http://organicsoupkitchen.org/