The Dulles South Soup Kitchen has a new home.
On Thursday, founder Devina Mahapatra was joined by supporters and county leaders to celebrate the nonprofit’s opening in new space at the Shoppes at Ryan Park in Ashburn.
The organization launched in late 2020 to augment the county’s charitable food distribution efforts at the height of the pandemic. It provided 20,000 prepared meals during its first year.
The new location, in the former The Pavilion at BeanTree space, will allow the nonprofit to do even more.
“We are just bursting with excitement for this new place because we’re able to scale to meet the demand of the community,” Mahapatra said.
“Hunger in Loudoun County shows up in many ways that we don’t expect. These are people who constantly make the decision is it going to be rent or is it going to be milk? Is it going to be utilities or is it going to be prescription medicine? That is what hunger looks like. It is camouflaged. You can’t see it,” she said.
She thanked the supporters who have donated and volunteered.
“Because of the support of people like you … we’ve been able to serve people. We’ve been able to serve people with love, warmed and dignity,” Mahapatra said.
County Chair Phyllis Randall said dignity was an important ingredient in Loudoun’s support to the food insecure.
“What we found out during the pandemic was how many people were living paycheck to paycheck,” Randall said, noting that Loudoun Hunger Relief saw its clientele grow by more than 800 people a week. “That is an amazing number when you think about Loudoun County.”
“People don’t want to come to a food kitchen. Most people in Loudoun County, they’re working. Sometimes they’re working two or three jobs and are doing their very, very best,” Randall said. “So, if they come receive food from a food pantry or soup kitchen it is because they have to. They have to feed their families. For us to make sure they do that with dignity is so important.”
David Gregory, the building owner who is making the space available to the soup kitchen, said most people choose not to see the suffering of others. “We don’t see that person starving. We’re hungry every now and then … but what we don’t do is empathize with that hungry person because we don’t like the pain it brings to us,” he said.
Randall also highlighted the importance of the work being done by the county’s business, faith and nonprofit communities, noting that the government cannot meet all the needs.
“If not for you people would go hungry. Women would go without housing. People would go without clothing and shelter,” Randall said. “We don’t say it enough and we don’t see it enough, but I will tell you on behalf of the full Board of Supervisors we see you. We see what you’re doing, and we understand why, and we see the people you are serving.”
The Dulles South Soup Kitchen provides healthy, hot meals to anyone seeking nourishment. It specializes in freshly made single-serve or family-style meals, incorporating pasta, rice, poultry, lean meats, and produce to provide residents with a balanced, hearty meal distributed through local partner hunger relief organizations or directly to the community.
Learn more at dullessouthsoupkitchen.org.