INTERLACHEN— The Interlachen Soup Kitchen will remain open 11 a.m.-1 p.m. weekdays for the foreseeable future despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The organization closed its dining area to prevent large gatherings, but will continue to provide free meals during its normal hours of operation.
“People still need to eat, and if we close down that defeats the whole purpose,” kitchen co-founder David Yonts said.
Yonts said the dining area is being deep cleaned. To still serve food to community, kitchen volunteers are placing meals in boxes and handing them to people outside.
He also said the soup kitchen will not give away free clothes until further notice to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
According to Yonts, the Interlachen Soup Kitchen typically serves more than 100 meals a day. He said the organization has served more than 240,000 meals since its inception.
Yonts’ wife and soup kitchen co-founder, Linda, said traffic to the facility has been slower than usual this week.
“People probably think we’re closed, but nope,” she said. “We’re still open.”
Kitchen volunteer Wendy Yonts said about 50 people a day came to the soup kitchen this week to enjoy some free food.
She said Monday was the week’s busiest day so far, with 67 meals being served.
“We have a lot of people who live in the woods and have no place to go to eat,” Linda Yonts said. “People need their food to live.”
The Yonts family created the Interlachen Soup Kitchen in 2011. David Yonts said he wanted to open a soup kitchen since he was a child growing up in Kentucky.
“I’m 70 years old,” he said. “I grew up poor, and we didn’t get free lunches back when I was growing up.”
The Interlachen Soup Kitchen, 155 N. County Road 315, isn’t the only place in Putnam County where people can get a free meal.
Bread of Life provides meals 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at First Presbyterian Church, on Second Street Palatka.
For more information about the Interlachen Soup Kitchen, call 972-1045. For more information about Bread of Life, call 328-1435.