This week at the Evening Sandwich Program (ESP) was busy as usual. Several Colby volunteers arrived around 2:30 on Tuesday in time to help the others  prepare the day’s food. On the menu today were cream cheese and olive, peanut butter and banana, salami and cheese, and tuna sandwiches. To go along with the sandwiches, Maili (the ESP director) also prepared a hearty vegetable soup with mushrooms, broccoli, and noodles, and a ‘tatertot casserole,’ which has proven to be popular in the past.

Today, our small kitchen was swamped with more demand than usual: by the end of the day, we had served 201 meals (average: 100). Many of our customers rely to some extent on food stamps, and, given that these stamps are distributed at the beginning of each month, it is around this time they often look to supplement that food with options from ESP or other soup kitchens around Waterville.

Part of the allure of this particular soup kitchen, with its two giant freezers, large pantry full of canned goods, and various Unitarian themed posters on the walls, is the unique group of people that have chosen to devote their time and energy to giving back to their community. Several ESP volunteers, like Maili, are members of the UU church, whose large meeting hall is directly upstairs. Two Mormon missionaries, Elders Esplin and Carroll, take time out of their schedules to volunteer twice a week. They are in their early twenties, and are taking time off from their pre-medical studies in college do missionary work in the Waterville area. Several high school and middle school kids also come as well, and they add a healthy dose of rambunctiousness and youth to the scene.

The clock strikes 4, and soon an orderly line of people forms in the foyer area of our kitchen, stretching out the door. As ESP is a take out soup kitchen, customers ask for and receive their meals in paper and plastic bags (not trays). They can also take fruit and desserts (donated from local supermarkets) along with their sandwiches and soup.

By 4:45 the ‘rush’ has abated; finally the volunteers have time to take a break, chat, and have a cup of tea.

A successful day, I would say.  Plus, the company is awesome.

– Gabe Lerner ’12, ESP Program Leader