One thing I've learned over the past seven years is that no one wants to eat at a soup kitchen. You pretty much have to park your pride outside when you enter. You line up with your tray (just like junior high school), waiting to get to the serving counter, where the portions are often small, and you take whatever they hand you. The only choice you have is to eat what you're given or go hungry.

At the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN) soup kitchen in Hempstead, we understand this. We make a maximum effort to treat every guest with dignity and respect and friendliness. A lot of our guests ask for seconds and we try to accommodate them when we can, but it's not always possible. A year ago we were feeding 300 people a day for lunch, now we're feeding nearly 500 a day. We have to make sure everyone has had "firsts" before we give out any seconds.

We also know that for many of our guests this is their first meal of the day. For some of our guests it may be their only meal of the day. Often the line of people waiting for food stretches along both sidewalls of the room and sometimes there's another line of people waiting outside. The room holds about 225 people at a time and as soon as one person finishes eating, another takes their seat.

With your help we can make sure that the meals we serve have fresh meat, and vegetables, fruit, and salad, and dessert. And of course, a wonderful cup of hearty soup. Every $25 the INN receives means hot, nutritious food for 10 men, women, and children. Every penny of your donation is used to buy food.

If you'd like to help, please make your check payable to: The Interfaith Nutrition Network. Donations may be mailed to: Dave Golbert, 7 Lee Court West, Great Neck, NY 11024. To donate food, clothing, or personal care items, or to learn about volunteering, call: 917-418-2451 or email: davegolbert@yahoo.com

Your support makes a real difference in the lives of our less fortunate neighbors.

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