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In need of volunteers: Siouxland Soup Kitchen pushes back reopening

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- A hot meal is a goal for leaders at the Siouxland Soup Kitchen in Sioux City.

They've been serving meals for more than 30 years on West 7th street. Over the years they usually serve 60 to 70 people a night, dine-in and all you can eat, averaging about 100 meals a night.

But things have changed since the pandemic began. Now they serve around 130 to 180 people a night, but no dine-in is allowed. All those extra people mean the need for extra volunteers, something the Soup Kitchen is struggling with.

"And it's every day, something different," said Danielle Tott, Soup Kitchen Director. "It's been something different every day since this started."

Things have looked a bit different at the Siouxland Soup Kitchen in Sioux City over the past 5 months. Director Danielle Tott hoped to open for dine-in once again starting on Monday, but a shortage of volunteers put a wrench in that plan.

"No volunteers," said Tott. "None. If I were to open on the 17th, from the 17th of August to the 14th of September, I had two groups. That was it. For two days. So there was no way to make that work."

Tott said she usually needs about seven volunteers a day but likes to have more than that. Now, with the increase in meals being served…

"I could probably use twice that amount of volunteers," said Tott. "If we had to hire people to do what our volunteers did, we wouldn't last a year. There is just no way. So they're crucial to keeping something like this going."

So why the shortage of people stepping up to help? Tott said a majority of her current volunteers are older and many are worried about coming to help with the pandemic.

"And I don't blame them," said Tott. "I really don't. I'm going to do everything that I can to keep them safe and I'm really hoping that when my volunteer schedule turns over again, that a lot of them are going to feel more comfortable by then."

For now, Tott said they're pushing back the planned re-opening date to September 14th. Tott said the Soup Kitchen makes a huge impact in the community.

"Last year, over 20,000 meals probably," said Tott. "On top of that we have Eric's closet and we provide clothing and toiletries and blankets and pretty much anything we can to the homeless, to anybody that asks, to children and if there is a way to help we do. I think that's pretty important."

Tott said she is serving at least 80 more meals a night since the pandemic started, serving around 3,600 meals a month compared to the usual 2,700 when their doors are open.

She attributes a big part of that increase to families, saying she serves at least 40 kids a night. On top of the need for volunteers, the soup kitchen also needs to-go containers.

If you would like to help you, you can send them an email to siouxlandsoupkitchen@gmail.com

Michaela Feldmann

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