• Karen Finnigan

Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen by New Day Lutheran Church

When I contacted Guy Backstrom earlier this week about his work at the Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen, he agreed & asked if I could also help stuff crackers into bags.

I said Yes, that sounds easy. But as it turns out I sliced onions, chased down gloves & aprons, sliced donated cake and sealed styrofoam boxes (with one spill).

The soup kitchen was high energy & very fluid. Volunteers slipped in & out of tasks as needed. No one owned a job, which was what made it so fun. And overseeing New Day Lutheran’s team (2nd Saturday of each month) was Guy, the big & tall fellow in apron & ponytail. He’d be easy to spot if he stayed in one place, but he’s all over.

The menu for October 8 was indigenous chili, Guy’s own recipe, in honor of the Indigenous People’s holiday in two days. A mix of Bison, beans, tomatoes, & squash bubbled in huge vats on the stove, constantly stirred by a pair of his friends. Guy popped by often to taste. “Add more cumin to this vat, more chili powder to that.” All the while volunteers called after him, “Guy, Guy, we’re out of pears! Are there any more onions? What else do you need help with?”

Guy finally gave us the slip and disappeared for a half hour. He made a WalMart run. More bottled water was needed. Corn Starch was out. This was not his first extra outing of the week I found out. He came to the soup kitchen one evening to look over the pantry & freezer before finalizing his menu. What food donations were available? What did he need to buy? How much should he prep the night before? While donated funds may be available to help out, Guy doesn’t use those. He buys things himself and told me it’s his way of tithing.

While he was away the rest of us did our best to keep things moving and also watch the clock. We open the doors at noon. Today, we’ll be handing out meals through the door. Guy said he’d need about 20 volunteers to invite people inside for sit down service. Today we’ve got about a dozen helpers. But it works! “I love it when a good plan comes together,” Guy said happily as 160 styrofoam boxes started sliding along the counter, our assembly line.

Our first customer was outside the door early and Guy handed out a box. I asked Guy what has kept him leading this team for 5-6 years. He was modest & simply said, “When I first came no one else volunteered. So I said I’d do it.” Lucky Soup kitchen, though I suspected he just plain likes to help people.

If YOU would like to help Guy, come on down to 301 S Boulevard at 10 am on the second Saturday of the month. Drop in, stay as long as you can. You’ll help the needy, the lonely, the disabled, the down-on-their luck of our community. The volunteers get a hearty meal from leftovers. And the delicious pleasure of serving others.

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