Sonshine Soup Kitchen closes due to virus worries

MIKE SPRINGER/File photoMaury Davidson, a volunteer from the First Parish Church in Derry, cooks hot dogs for a meal at Sonshine Soup Kitchen earlier this year. The downtown food mission has closed its doors for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus concerns.

DERRY — A downtown food mission that has served the community for three decades has shut its doors due to the coronavirus challenges it faced.

Sonshine Soup Kitchen announced Thursday afternoon it would be closing for the foreseeable future as officials and staff determine when it would be safe to reopen.

"With our staff, volunteers and the people we serve in the high-risk category, we have decided to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus in Rockingham County," Sonshine Executive Director Christine Fudala said in a statement.

And like many nonprofits, businesses and other organizations, donations have dwindled.

"Our donations have, simply put, come to a screeching halt," Fudala continued. "We are hoping that this will pick up at some point."

For 30 years, Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry has offered a daily dose of not only a nutritious free meal to those in need, but a strong volunteer network representing area businesses, schools, churches and individuals wanting to pitch in and help.

Fudala said earlier this year the food mission could not function without its volunteers and teams, coming in every day to either cook meals, serve, or do after meal cleanup.

Last year, the soup kitchen served up more than 10,000 meals, an increase from the year before.

Fudala said Sonshine is a haven for many, and more and more are being served. People of all ages came for meals, with various life circumstances taking hold and forcing many to face challenges.

But with the current climate and with many people being served that could fall into those high-risk groups, the difficult decision to close had to be made, officials said.

It's also about the staff and groups of volunteers and their safety during this time, Fudala said.

"We hope to be able to reopen and serve the community as we have been the last 30 years when this is all over," she added.

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