Stewpot tries to keep bellies, pantry full

Published 12:44 am Sunday, December 6, 2009

NATCHEZ — Three hot meals a day isn’t a given for everyone in Natchez, but Louis Gunning and The Stewpot are doing their part to make sure people have at least one.

Gunning, the director of The Stewpot in Natchez, said the organization currently serves approximately 300 lunches each day, with approximately 50 people eating in dining room.

The remainder of the meals are delivered across Adams County by volunteer drivers

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“We know there are more people in need and if they come to us we will find a way to serve them, but right now we feel like 300 is our maximum,” Gunning said.

Gunning said they are limited by space, not desire to serve. The size of the ovens, freezers and kitchen in The Stewpot building all make serving more than 300 meals a day difficult.

The Stewpot serves lunch from to those, who for one reason or another, are not able to provide food for themselves. The meals are prepared and delivered by a staff of mostly volunteers. The only paid worker at The Stewpot is the cook.

And volunteers are sometimes hard to come by, Gunning said.

“Our main issue now is finding drivers to deliver the meals,” he said. “Meals are still getting delivered, but we need more drivers.”

Gunning said drivers only commit to deliver one route, one day a week. The routes take between an hour and an hour and a half to run.

“The people who deliver the meals really like to do it,” he said. “But I think people may sometimes be afraid to commit to it.”

Gunning said that fear comes from the misconception that meals will not get delivered if the driver needs a day off. But he said, one way or another meals get delivered each day.

“It is just easier when we have a driver for all the routes,” he said.

Outside of man power, Gunning said The Stewpot needs money to keep the doors open.

The donated funds are used to pay for utilities for the building, building upkeep, the cooks salary and keeping the pantry stocked.

Donations can be mailed to Natchez Stewpot, P.O. Box 298, Nathcez, MS 39121.

Non-perishable food donations are welcome and should be dropped off at the Stewpot on Franklin Street.

“We normally get an influx of donations of food this time of year,” Gunning said. “Right now, if you go up there and look, we will look full, but in four months if you go look we will look empty again.”

Gunning said monetary donations are the easiest and most useful because they don’t require storage space and The Stewpot can purchase food much cheaper through the Mississippi Food Network than individuals can at the grocery store.