IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen operates seven days a week and it wouldn't be possible without the volunteers and donations. Hundreds of people depend on it.
The motto is, "We want to provide a hot meal to people in need in an environment of respect and dignity."
That is the goal and it's been doing it since 1985. It began as the St. Marks Christian Sandwich Kitchen.
"The first weekend, I think they served two people on Saturday and two people on Sunday," said coordinator Dan Sanow.
He and his wife, Marilyn, are the coordinators behind it all. They have been there from the very beginning.
"The first 18 months that the soup kitchen was open, they served 1,805 meals. Now we serve about 3,500 a month," said Sanow. "Yeah, it was kind of a steady thing, and then the last seven years the slope increased quite a bit."
People such as Laramie, college-educated, but down on his luck.
"If I didn't have this, I wouldn't have much else to help me out," said Laramie.
To meet that demand, it wouldn't happen without two things.
"It's all volunteer," said Sanow.
"One-hundred percent of everything we serve comes out of the community. We either buy it locally with cash donations or it's donated to us through various food drives and things like that," said Sanow.
They function just exactly like a restaurant, meeting all required codes.
"We get this ham. And this is turkey. He delivers about 150 pounds of hamburger every other week," said Sanow.
At a dollar a plate, Sanow said they used between $60,000 to $65,000 worth of donated food and money in 2014. They started 2015 about $6,000 in the red.
Enter Christy Zaudke, vice president of branches for Mountain America Credit Union.
"Well, I'm excited to meet both you and Marilyn. And I'm here because at Mountain America, we are so touched by what you are doing in the community and we wanted to 'Pay it Forward' and so we wanted to help support your contributions by giving you $500 cash," said Zaudke.
"Wow. Wow!" said Sanow.
"That's 500 meals. That's 500 people you have fed today," said Marilyn Sanow.
"That is awesome. We are hoping that it does help you to continue to help those in need in Idaho Falls," said Zaudke.
"That's wonderful. Thank you very much," said Dan. "Oh, this is great. Another perfect example of what happens to us. When we need money or need anything, it just shows up. I told you that we were $6,000 short at the beginning of the year, now we're $500 less!"
"Thank you for what you do," said Zaudke.
'Pay It Forward' will air the second Wednesday of every month. So if you know of a non-profit organization or someone that deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, let us know.
Click on 'Pay It Forward' off to the right side of our website and fill out the form. Or you can send an email to Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz at email@example.com.