The Horizons soup kitchen is open from noon to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. | Ron Kinscherf
QUINCY – John Adams, our country’s second president, is believed to have said, “The shortest way to men’s hearts is through their throats.”
Horizons Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen, 224 S. Eighth, adds a twist to Adams’ thoughts.
“Food is kind of the gateway to life here at Horizons,” said Sarah Stephens, CEO of Horizons. “Food is what brings people in, but once they walk through the door, they find a sense of belonging and acceptance of love. Often when they find those elements of hope , they find a renewed interest in life.
Horizons’ biggest fundraiser, “Hope for Horizons,” is scheduled for May 6 at Quincy Country Club. This informal gathering celebrates the impact of Horizons on our community.
Father James Derbyshire of St. John’s Parish founded Horizons at 701 Hampshire in 2009. What started as a church providing one meal a week now has 30 participating churches serving 40,000 meals a year. About 800,000 pounds of food were distributed in 2021.
The soup kitchen is open from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The pantry is open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday and from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday.
But at Horizons, it’s more than food.
“We’re trying to get people to work somewhere else, trying to do a lot in the whole health idea,” Stephens said. “We seek to nourish ourselves not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually.”
What “lucky” people think of as poverty is not the poverty of unlucky people.
“If you ask the average person to describe what poverty is, they’ll tell you it’s a lack of material things,” Stephens said. “If you ask someone in poverty to define poverty, they’ll use words like shame and a sense of inadequacy instead.”
Stephens sees himself in the people who walk through the door of Horizons.
“We are all one tragedy away from the soup kitchen, depending on the size of our safety net,” she said. “A lot of times when you find out about people’s stories, I wonder, ‘Would I be here? What if the same things had happened to me?’
The services offered by Horizons continue to grow. Horizons offers a Faith in Fitness class, a Faith in Finance class, an Addicts Victorious program, and faith-based trauma healing. They’ve partnered with Transitions to provide a “living room” – a place to congregate and maybe get away from it all for a few moments.
“When you give people an environment where they can feel safe, they can feel loved,” Stephens said.
The food served by Horizons should improve. Stephens said one woman, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who was homeless and came to eat at Horizons, was recently hired as a full-time cook.
“Now one of her greatest joys is cooking for her homeless friends,” Stephens said.