Community helps AMEN Place Soup Kitchen to increase storage

The AMEN Place Soup Kitchen’s mission has always been to feed the hungry. But this year they needed help keeping up with the increased number of people facing food shortages since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were serving 250 families, but during this crisis the numbers have ballooned. We are now serving 700 families,” said Karl Andzejczyk, who started the soup kitchen with his wife Christine in 2001. “We are serving a family of four, three meals a day, for four days.”

This breaks down to approximately 2,500 people being served which is the greatest number the soup kitchen has ever handled. With the increased demand, came a need for increased refrigerator and freezer storage.

Montgomery County Legislator and local businessman Robert Purtell coordinated with Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti to help.

“When we were at a barbecue fundraiser for the AMEN Place Soup Kitchen, we noticed they had inadequate storage. We started looking into how to raise money for them,” Purtell said.

Purtell said they reached out to MVP Healthcare, Fage Yogurt, and the United Way and together with other area organizations and individuals, raised approximately $12,000 to purchase a refrigeration and freezer unit.

“We found a slightly used walk-in refrigeration unit in Connecticut, but the problem was how to get it here,” Purtell said.

Utilizing long-standing relationships, he asked for assistance from local labor unions from Connecticut and New York to load, transport, unload, and construct the walk-in cooler and freezer.

The unit was successfully transported to the AMEN Place Soup Kitchen about two weeks ago and will be ready for use within another week.

A sheet metal workers union in Glens Falls will put the unit together and members of the local plumbers and pipe-fitters union are installing the pipe-fitting and refrigeration.

All with volunteer work, a refrigeration unit will soon become a reality for the non-profit organization that does a lot for residents in need.

Food is donated by area restaurants, markets, and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York on a daily basis and handed out to people every Tuesday from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. at their parking lot at 105 Guy Park Avenue in Amsterdam where tents are set up for distribution.

The soup kitchen distributes non-perishable canned food, dairy, fruit, and meat products like chicken breasts to the public with no questions asked.

“Anyone can pick up our food at our lot every Tuesday. There are no requirements,” Andzejczyk said.

For further information or to help, contact the AMEN Place Soup Kitchen at (518) 843-2636.

(Photo by Tim Becker)