A local nonprofit fights food insecurity in the Baltimore region with the help of a local Chick-fil-A restaurant
On a chilly day in late 2020, a team of volunteers at Soup for the Soul was preparing to feed more than 100 people lined up outside its community center in the Baltimore, MD neighborhood of Dundalk. An hour before the doors were scheduled to open, the kitchen’s ovens broke down. Stacy Nagel, the nonprofit’s executive director, had to act fast.
“I picked up the phone and called my friends at Chick-fil-A® Eastpoint, saying I needed 250 hot meals in the next 25 minutes,” Nagel recalls. “And, sure enough, they agreed without hesitation.”
Manager Lindsay Fink rushed to the restaurant from an off-site event and worked alongside her fellow Chick-fil-A Eastpoint Team Members to quickly assemble sandwiches and sides during the lunch rush.
“We came together to make it happen, because giving back to our community is what we’re all about,” Fink says. “Providing a warm meal to families in need brings us a lot of joy.”
Taking care of each other
Giving back is second nature for the Chick-fil-A Eastpoint team, according to Operator and Dundalk native Danielle Alderson. “There is no playbook, and there are no quotas,” she explains. “We’re all empowered to make decisions like the one Lindsay did that day.”
Soup for the Soul’s mission is to combat food insecurity in the underserved and close-knit community of Dundalk, where 17% of the population lives below the poverty line and all public schools receive Title 1 federal funding. The organization runs a weekly food pantry — where locals pick up canned goods, supplemental groceries and hot meals donated by area businesses — in addition to providing healthcare and other support services for elderly and homeless populations.
“Dundalk is a warm and welcoming place where everyone looks out for each other,” Nagel says. “We could not do what we do week-in, week out without the support of our community partners.”
Love for all in the community
Everyone, regardless of the hardship they face, is treated with dignity and grace at Soup for the Soul.
“We want our clients—who we greet by name and welcome like family—to know that they will never face a dead-end as long as they can pick up the phone and call us,” Nagel says. “We never want anyone to feel belittled by receiving what may be their only hot meal of the week. And it’s important for them to see that organizations like Chick-fil-A care about them, which they certainly did that day.”
Chick-fil-A Eastpoint, a pillar of the Dundalk community since 1980, has proudly supported Soup for the Soul for more than 15 years by donating meals, gift cards, volunteer hours and more.
“Our commitment stems from the fact that any of us could be one bad break away from being in that line,” says Alderson, who was raised by a single mother who received government food assistance. “These are people just like us, and while it may not have been their story two weeks ago and may not be their story tomorrow, it’s their story today. We hope that by serving their bellies, we can serve their souls with nourishment for a good night’s sleep and confidence for a job interview the next day.”
Alderson started working at the restaurant’s initial location inside the Eastpoint Mall in 1991 at age 14 and stayed onboard as a Team Member while studying at Towson University. She eventually became the Operator several years later.
“Chick-fil-A Eastpoint thrives because of the support we get from Dundalk, and in return we support Dundalk any way we can,” Alderson says. “This community has been through many ups and downs, but always survives and thrives because of each other.”