Bringing Soul to Soup and Farm to Tray: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

by Deirdre Appel
Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Name: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

What They Do: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen serves over 5,000 hungry and homeless New Yorkers every week, through cafeteria-style lunches, brown bag lunches, the Backpack Pantry Program, and a monthly Sunday Supper. It is the largest emergency feeding program in New York, and the second largest in the country.  Its motto is “Soup and Soul,” embodying a philosophy of offering food and a variety of programs to nourish both the body and the mind.

While the short-term aim is to provide all those who are hungry in New York City with a nutritious and delicious meal, the ultimate goal is to help empower those they serve to live fulfilling and independent lives off the street. In addition to their food- and meal-service programs, the kitchen has a social services team that helps guests navigate towards improved health, housing and jobs. The Soup Kitchen also hosts a computer lab, clothing and hygiene giveaways, a writing workshop, meditation sessions, and weekly movie screenings.

How They Do It: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen was founded in 1982, when a few individuals responded to the rising rate of homelessness in Chelsea and served the(change from “their” to “its”) first 35 meals to those in the neighborhood.  Since then, mainly due to the dedication and hard work of volunteers, staff and donors, the kitchen has served over 9 million meals. This year Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen celebrates 37 years of operation. Volunteers interested in continuing to support their mission can learn more about ongoing opportunities here.

Mission: The mission of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is to feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, seek justice for the homeless, and provide a sense of hope and opportunity to those in need.

Latest project/campaign: Inspired by NYC’s goal of zero waste by 2030, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen has partnered with NYU Wagner’s Capstone program to transform itself into a waste-free soup kitchen by 2020 through better composting, recycling and purchasing efforts. They are working to ensure that all food and paper products are composted and picked up by the Department of Sanitation, and they have replaced wax paper cups with reusable cups – an environmentally responsible solution that has helped save them more than $414,000 in purchasing costs annually. They helped bring the first two farmers markets to Chelsea in 2014 and, thanks to a partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation, the Soup Kitchen serves as a composting site for the neighborhood.

The Soup Kitchen also places a high priority on sustainability. The delicious and nutritious meals they prepare are cooked with rescued food as well as New York State produce and dairy.  Since 2017, they’ve been raising bees on their roof and yielding jars of honey. Later in 2019, they will be planting a seasonable vegetable garden so that neighborhood participants can learn about nutrition, sustainability, and composting, and gain an appreciation of nature.  

Major Funding: Donations from organizations and individuals (183 and approximately 6,500 respectively in 2017)

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Revenue: 2.9 million USD

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: For the second year, the Soup Kitchen is partnering with Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture – a non-profit farm and educational center with a partner restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located in Pocantico Hills, New York –  and the High School for Environmental Studies. The school has a class project to raise awareness about food, sustainability and the challenges of protecting our food systems.  The students who volunteered to spend one day a week of service in the Soup Kitchen will return in June to produce a meal made from food that has been rescued from Green Markets and serve it to the community after Soup Kitchen hours.  The working date for this food service, subject to change, is June 7.


Location: 296 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10001

Core Programs: Meal service programs, social service programs (includes counseling, support signing-up for with SNAP and healthcare, resume building); Food for the Soul program (includes meditation classes, writing workshops)

Number of staff: 19

Number of volunteers: Approximately 70 per day

Areas served: Soup Kitchen is located in Chelsea but work spans all NYC boroughs

Year Started: 1982

Executive Director:  The Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson, Executive Director

Contact Information: (212) 924-0167; emails to relevant departments can be found here



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