A high school student from New Hampshire reflects on volunteering at St. Francis Inn, a soup kitchen in Philadelphia, for this Hunger Action Month post. 

“I’m hungry.” This phrase is often spoken by my family, friends and myself. All we have to do is go look through the kitchen for something “good” to eat.

The homeless, hungry people that I have met through St. Francis Inn, a soup kitchen in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, do not have a kitchen stocked with food and that is if they have a kitchen at all. If they want something to eat, they have to walk to the Inn, wait in line and hope that the food is something they like.

The guests of St. Francis Inn receive two meals a day, three days a week and one meal four days of the week, if they make it to the inn at all meal times. I, along with everyone else I know, eat three meals a day, sometimes more.

Serving a meal at St. Francis Inn

We all know what being hungry feels like, but none of us have ever experienced hunger. Hunger is going to bed with only a bagel in your stomach, not skipping your mid day snack. Hunger is not knowing where your next meal is coming from, not wondering if Pizza Hut delivers.

St. Francis Inn aims to stop this hunger. I have been volunteering here for four days now and most of the people I have served come everyday, if not multiple times a day. This is their lifeline.

There are four men from the Franciscan order along with three lay women who run the Inn full time. The amount of time these seven individuals spend on putting foods in the mouths of the hungry is incredible. I return to my air conditioned and electronic equipped house in a few days and life will go back to normal for me. This is their normal. They wake up as early as 4 a.m. to prepare the meal and pick up donations. Their work will not be done until people stop coming to St. Francis Inn, which with the economy today, will not be anytime soon.

The problem of hunger exists far beyond the Kensington area. In America, 14.5 percent of households were not able to provide food for themselves as of 2010. Almost one in five children go to bed hungry.

You can help feed those with nothing by donating your time or money to your local soup kitchen. The littlest donation is a lot for those with nothing. Raise awareness in your community by posting flyers with statistics and ways to help. And next time you are tempted to say “I’m hungry,” remember, you are not the only one.

Kasie Bourque is a junior at Trinity High School in Manchester, N.H. Through her school’s campus ministry she was given the chance to volunteer at St. Francis Inn. While looking for colleges in the Philadelphia and New York area she enjoys journalism, taking pictures and running.