By Kim West
Two navy sport coats flanked a large white banner waving gently in the breeze Thursday afternoon at Mighty Warrior Church on Swanner Boulevard, home to the county’s only known soup kitchen.
The church’s doors stood open to passersby in need of a hot meal, a warm smile or clothing that draped the pews, and the banner was emblazoned with a simple message from Galatians 5:13 — “Serve one another in love.”
The soup kitchen, which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, is the idea of church member and Thatch resident Anita Jo Bryant who wants to provide respite and refreshment to those waiting in line at the adjacent Athens-Limestone Food and Shelter.
Bryant said it grew from being a part-time operation that opened in July 2013 to full time by January. Named “Now Serving,” the soup kitchen has fed up to 120 people a day, averaging 75 daily visitors.
“I was taking someone to the food bank next door and they were very busy. The waiting room was full of people, and people were waiting in their cars and standing on the sidewalk,” she said. “I said, “Lord, look at all the hungry people and he said ‘Open the doors.’”
Thursday’s special of the day was sauerkraut and baked beans, with a cooler filled nearby with ice-cold bottled water and milk. Some days the meal is spaghetti and garlic bread, while other days it could be hamburgers or hot dogs.
Randy Brown, Anita’s husband and a Mighty Warrior congregant, said people are welcome to dine in or take carryout. He said there is no paperwork required for assistance.
“It’s no questions asked because this is God’s gift,” Randy said. “We have food and other items donated to us, and we turn around and give it away. My wife also gives free haircuts, and she ministers and prays with them — whatever it takes to help.”
Food and Shelter director Laura Aldridge said Limestone County was among a handful of counties statewide without a soup kitchen before Mighty Warrior Church made one available.
“It’s such a blessing to have one,” she said.
Mighty Warrior Church is located at 20092 Swanner Boulevard, just west of Dollar General and off Huntsville-Browns Ferry Road in Tanner.