Harriman church opening soup kitchen

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HARRIMAN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Courts of Praise Church in Harriman is trying to help the hungry every way it can.

Back in June, it started a food bank, giving out groceries to more than 40 families every week.

"It was basically the biggest need in our community that we saw that we could do something about immediately. People were hungry, and there's not a lot of places to go to get food in the immediate area," said Josh Adkins, administrative pastor.

But the church saw another need, too: the need for hot meals. It said the Roane Medical Center currently gives meal vouchers to those in need, but said soon, it will be harder for many in Harriman to take advantage of them. That's because the medical center is moving to a new location in Midtown.

"There's a lot of people that live in this area that are poor, that don't have a way around, a car or anything like that - so they're walking up to the hospital now, they have vouchers - they're being fed there now, but once the hospital moves out of the area, they won't have that ability anymore," said Nick Hill, the church's pastor.

The church is turning its basement into a soup kitchen. There's still some work to be done, and in the meantime, it's serving soup to those in need outside.

"See all my money goes for rent and we don't have anything left. So it's hard to get food. So this is a good place to come to," said Frances Nelson, who eats soup there.

"It's a really good place to go and they really help people out.," said Betty Daugherty, who also eats soup at the church.

Pastor Hill said he hopes the soup kitchen will be finished in time for Thanksgiving.

Hill said the church just bought the former Walnut Hill Elementary school at auction. He said it needs about $200,000 worth of renovations, but said once those are completed, he's hopeful the church will also start providing shelter, education and job training.

If you'd like to help, you can drop off food or money at the church.