Stone Soup marks 30 years of ministry feeding neighbors

Bobbi Pitts in the Stone Soup kitchen at Quapaw Quarter UMC. COURTESY PHOTO

Bobbi Pitts in the Stone Soup kitchen at Quapaw Quarter UMC.
COURTESY PHOTO

The Stone Soup ministry at Quapaw Quarter UMC Little Rock just celebrated 30 uninterrupted years of providing a hot meal for the hungry at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

If you do the math, that comes out to 1,560 Sundays—every single Sunday for 30 years, in fair weather and during ice storms, gas leaks and power outages—even if they had to make do with a sack lunch, which was only a handful of times. An average of 120 persons share the meal on a given Sunday, which translates into approximately 187,200 meals served.

It began on an Easter Sunday, April 7, 1985. The Rev. John Miles Sr., then pastor at St. James UMC Little Rock, had people who wanted to help feed the hungry and money to help do it, but people in need of food didn’t live in or frequent St. James’ west Little Rock neighborhood.

Bobbi Pitts, an active member of the church at 16th and Louisiana Streets downtown (still Winfield UMC in those days), was concerned for the hungry people who knocked on the church’s doors every day. While the church’s tiny food pantry could give out a few canned goods if someone asked, it lacked the financial resources to meet the needs of its immediate mission field. In an example of the United Methodist connection at its best, Miles and Pitts pooled their respective churches’ resources of money, volunteers, needs and space to form Stone Soup, and the rest is history.

Many United Methodist churches, youth groups and individuals have spent time in the Stone Soup kitchen at 16th and Louisiana, now Quapaw Quarter UMC. Among the ones who are still active in the program are Asbury UMC, Henderson, St. Luke, St. James Little Rock, Keo, England, First Benton, Sardis and Salem Benton. Volunteers from these churches were honored at a spaghetti dinner Tuesday, April 7, at QQUMC, along with current and former volunteer schedule coordinators Brenda Weeks and Debbie Hiller of St. James and Bobbi Pitts of Quapaw Quarter, and the ministry’s grocery shopper, Lori Llewellyn of St. James.

—submitted by Anne Holcomb