SVDP Memphis

Food Mission
The People of the Food Mission

The Saint Vincent de Paul food mission in Memphis is critically important to the people we serve. It is the only food mission in midtown open every day. Open about two hours each day, seven day a week, 365 days a year it provides for the hunger of our guests.

Every day, between 150 and 225 people come in for a warm meal and a place to sit down, sometimes out of the rain or snow. They come in to forget the pain of the street. They come in to see a volunteer smile at them and say "Hello". These are the people the food mission serves.

Danny, a former Marine and a frequent visitor to the food mission says "This place is an inspiration, I can come here and relax and eat. I don't have to worry about being out on the street while I am here".

Volunteers give their time to prepare up to 225 meals each and every day for those who need our assistance.  Other volunteers work to provide supplies, food and other donations that make it possible to continue this mission of charity.

Nora, a volunteer says "I come here because I can do something to help people."

The Need To Do More

The volunteers do all that they can to help as many people as possible, but there is much more to be done.

Presently, men, women and children are fed each day. Help with clothes and other necessities are also provided when possible.

The present building that houses the food mission was built in 1910. It is an old residence and is not designed to feed large numbers of people, but that does not stop the number of people from growing. 

The dream is to do more than just feed and sometimes clothe our guests. The need is to help them to break free from the burdens that keep them from living life with the dignity that is bestowed on all God's people.

For some, drug or alcohol abuse are the main culprits. Others may need a helping hand to find employment or a place to live. Still others may need long term help to transition into the mainstream of daily living.

The limit is only the existing facility.  The volunteers have great zeal and passion for helping the people of Midtown Memphis that need help every day to survive.

We, as the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, are committed to the task at hand.

The Food Mission
The year was 1988, the place - Midtown Memphis. Fr. Tom Kirk, Pastor of Sacred Heart parish on Jefferson Street, approached the Saint Vincent de Paul Society for assistance. The number of people in need of food had overwhelmed the resources of his parish. In response to Fr. Kirk's plea, The Society opened a food mission in the entrance of Kemphues gymnasium across the street from Sacred Heart Church. It began with two or three people consuming a meal of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, coffee or Kool-aid and cookies. After eight years the number of people needing assistance continued to grow and the food mission was forced to find another location.  A nearby rental house was found at 123 North Cleveland Street. Although the house was smaller than the previous location, the number of people seeking help continued to grow. At that time the number of people seeking food numbered between 100 and 125 people each and every day of the year. The food mission provides an opportunity for people of many different faiths to do as Jesus instructed, to "Feed my sheep" and "Tend my flock."
The Need to Act Now
  • The number of guests at the food mission continues to grow.
  • The downtown area of Memphis continues to boom, pushing the homeless further east.
  • The food mission facility is less than ideal.
  • The need to offer more services to the guests of our food mission grows.

Providing the proper services to guests will help them back into the mainstream of daily living now before it is too late.

The $100,000 Challenge

An anonymous benefactor challenged us to raise $150,000 before April 30, 2008. We have reached this goal, and subsequently, the benefactor donated an additional $100,000 to the campaign to build a new food mission facility. 

Your generous gift will be leveraged by the benefactor to make it even more powerful and worthwhile to those in need.

Making It Happen

Making it happen requires a dream, a plan, volunteers with a passion for improving the lives of needy Memphians and most of all - YOU!

Dreams have price tags. The dream of The Saint Vincent de Paul Society for a new food mission with space for expanded seating and services may well cost a half million dollars!  Our options include building a new facility or renovating an existing one.

A facility better suited to our needs and the needs of those we serve, will enable all of us to reach that dream.  It will make it possible in the future to counsel a greater number of  guests, provide them with food, clothes and other necessities, find work for the jobless, a place to sleep for the homeless, and find whatever it takes to help those in need to get back on track.

The Other 22 Hours

The Saint Vincent de Paul food mission is open only about two hours each day.

"The Other 22 Hours" has two meanings:

  1. First, the Society's desire to help people far more than just the hours the food mission is currently open.
  2. Second, to make certain that the people we help have access to more than just a food mission.  Our guests need more help than we can provide in that short amount of time.  Counseling, housing, employment should all be a part of that "Other 22 Hours".

YOU can make this dream happen --- TODAY!

We ask that you prayerfully consider a substantial gift to the St Vincent de Paul Society so we can continue working for the cause of the poor, the hungry and the homeless here in Memphis.  Please - help us . . .  help others.


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The Society

The primary focus of The Society since 1865 has been the assistance of individuals that call for help. That help may include assistance with utility bills, food baskets, rent or mortgage assistance.  It could also include help paying medical bills and whatever else the person may need to get back on their feet.

In Brief

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul first arrived in Memphis in 1865. The first conference (or group of volunteers) gathered at St. Peter and Paul parish in downtown Memphis. Since then the Society has grown to ten conferences, with hundreds of Vincentians, as the members are called. That number does not include the scores of volunteers that work at the food mission.