Editors note: This story is part of an ongoing series on the issue of homelessness in Midtown. It was originally published in October 2020. See our most recent installment here.
This October, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer will serve its two-millionth meal.
Years before the start of many other homeless programs, the faith community in Midtown has been providing resources from hot meals to Bible study and help securing legal identification like birth certificates.
Since 1982, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer has served free lunch on weekdays at the corner of Peachtree and 4th Streets. This October, the church will serve its two-millionth meal.
Trends Show Decline in Midtown Guests
“We do a rough count based on soup bowls filled the first serving, and the number of guests served daily has ebbed and flowed over the years as Midtown has changed,” said Mary Howle, church board member.
According to Howle, in the late 80s and early 90s, the church served an average of 350 guests per day. Around the time the Peachtree-Pine Shelter closed in 2017, it was serving 125 to 150. Today, Howle says it serves 80 to 100 people daily.
What does Howle think is behind the decline?
“I’d like to think the city got better at providing solutions and that’s why our numbers have fallen,” she said. “It could also be that more shelters have opened around the city and our guests have moved accordingly.”
Volunteerism and Corporate Citizenship on Display
The meal is served by volunteers from Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, other area churches and businesses including SunTrust Bank. Most volunteers serve one day a month, and those interested in volunteering can reach out via the email below.
The church is also looking for other ways to expand its mission to alleviate food insecurity, including a “Market Day,” when it distributes donations from the new Whole Foods Market in Midtown to Lutheran Towers, a neighboring HUD senior housing facility with a low average household income.
Still Serving During COVID-19
During the pandemic, some food ministries temporarily closed out of concern for the safety of their staff and the people they serve. But Lutheran Church Food Ministry has remained open, moving to a to-go model, and has seen the number of people it is feeding nearly double since the pandemic began. Read our "Untangling Homelessness" pandemic update here.
- Volunteer with the food ministry at email@example.com.
- Organize a food pantry drive through your workplace