Hundreds enjoy MANNA Soup Kitchen holiday meal

  • Jimmy Tarr, right, prepares to serve plates ladled by other volunteers during a Christmas lunch, Dec. 25, 2018, at Edwards Church in Northampton. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Volunteers serve Christmas lunch, Dec. 25, 2018, at Edwards Church in Northampton. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Doris Childs, right, and George Bernier, left, enjoy a free Christmas lunch Dec. 25, 2018 at Edwards Church in Northampton. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Deserts can be seen at MANNA Soup Kitchen’s Christmas Dinner, Dec. 25, 2018, at Edwards Church in Northampton. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Debbie Krivoy of Florence and her 12-year-old daughter, Julia Krivoy-Einhorn, deliver meals at Walter Salvo House, 82 Conz St., in Northampton Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Jennifer Einhorn, left, and Debbie Krivoy, right, both of Florence, and their 12-year-old daughter, Julia Krivoy-Einhorn, center, deliver meals at the Walter Salvo House, 82 Conz St., in Northampton Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Jennifer Einhorn and Debbie Krivoy, both of Florence, and their 12-year-old daughter, Julia Krivoy-Einhorn, deliver meals at the Walter Salvo House, 82 Conz St., in Northampton Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Kim Carlino of Northampton, a board member of MANNA Soup Kitchen, helps prepare pork roast for guests at a community meal on Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018, at the Edwards Church. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • Head cook Lee Anderson, center, and Claire Troiano, volunteer coordinator at MANNA Soup Kitchen, right, check potatoes during a free community Christmas lunch, Dec. 25, 2018, at Edwards Church in Northampton. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

  • MANNA Soup Kitchen’s Christmas lunch of roast pork, roasted potatoes, green beans, and homemade apple sauce, served Dec. 25, 2018, at Edwards Church in Northampton. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo—

Staff Writer
Published: 12/25/2018 5:05:43 PM

NORTHAMPTON — It was a Christmas feast fit for royalty — pork roast marinated in a blend of rosemary, garlic, and olive oil, served with roasted potatoes, ginger and brown sugar butternut squash, green beans, and homemade apple sauce.

“It’s excellent. And I don’t have to cook. I’m sick of pots and pans,” said Doris Childs of Northampton, who was seated at a table in the basement of Edwards Church Tuesday for MANNA Soup Kitchen’s annual holiday luncheon. In past years, Childs said she made elaborate Christmas dinners at home, and attended the free meal for the second year in a row.

“The people are friendly. The food is perfect — just like you’d make,” she said. Beside her, friends George Bernier and Steven Graves, both also from Northampton, enthusiastically agreed. “She can’t believe she’s being waited on,” Bernier joked.

While most other buildings in downtown Northampton were closed on Christmas, the church at State and Main streets was a flurry of activity starting at 6 a.m.

Throughout the day, more than 100 volunteers could be seen waiting in line to deliver boxed meals, dishing out pork and potatoes from behind steaming aluminum pans, taking green beans out of ovens, and directing guests to festively decorated tables where they were served by people like Janice Francis of Florence, who began volunteering about three decades ago. She was standing with her son, Andre Barnes, 24, behind a table laden with donuts, muffins, and many Christmas cookies.

“Everybody deserves to have a good meal around the holidays,” Barnes said. He started volunteering when he was around 2 years old and has been coming ever since.

Francis said the luncheon was founded about five years before she became involved by the late Bill Nagle, a longtime Northampton politician. More recently, it’s been overseen for the past decade or so by MANNA Soup Kitchen, an interfaith nonprofit organization that hosts five free community meals each week, according to Carl Erickson of Northampton, president of the soup kitchen’s board of directors.

“This is much more elaborate — normally it’s buffet style,” Erickson said. “Our basic philosophy is that no one in our society should ever go hungry.”

To that end, Erickson estimated that by the end of the day they’d serve a little more than 430 people — 200 at the church, and another 235 driven by volunteers to others who ordered beforehand.

“We’re delivering three different meals, but it’s all the same address,” said Jennifer Einhorn of Florence, who volunteered with partner Debbie Krivoy and their 12-year-old daughter Julia Krivoy-Einhorn. “For our family, it’s become a ritual that we do to connect with the community.”

Their family celebrated Hanukkah at the beginning of the month, Krivoy said. Delivering meals was a way for them to connect with their neighbors, she added.

This year, the soup kitchen served more people than organizers anticipated, said Volunteer Jessica Frederick of South Deerfield. Head cook Lee Anderson, who also cooks for the soup kitchen during the week, had to pull together a few additional meals at the last minute but everything came together, she said.

“The people in this town are so generous with their talents and gifts,” Anderson said, noting donations from local businesses including Belly of the Beast, Florence Pie Bar, Stop and Shop, Big Y, Mount Tom Ice Cream, River Valley Market, Fitzwilly’s, Mamma Iguanas, and Lowe’s in Hadley.

Anderson, who doesn’t have any formal culinary training, said he learned to cook during his career as a salesmen selling computers to restaurants. He began volunteering with the kitchen a few years ago as a way to give back, and took over as head cook this past summer.

“I spent a lot of my life being fairly selfish. (Volunteering) started as an experiment, giving my time,” Anderson said. “It’s work that isn’t work.”

While the meal was intended to bless those guests who enjoyed it, many volunteers, like Anderson, said they were also blessed.

“It’s very rewarding,” said Barbara Ayers of South Hadley, who volunteered with Anderson in the kitchen. “It’s giving, but as you’re giving of your time, you’re receiving. It’s worth it.”

For more information on MANNA Soup Kitchen visit www.mannasoupkitchennorthampton.org. A full list of the organization’s free community meals, hosted throughout the year, is as follows: Mondays, noon, St. John’s Church, 48 Elm St.; Tuesdays, noon, St. John’s Church; Wednesdays, 6 p.m., Edwards Church, 297 Main St.; Thursdays, noon, St. John’s Church; Saturdays, noon, Edwards Church.

Andy Castillo can be reached at acastillo@gazettenet.com.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy