Nonprofit, City at Odds over Soup in Shamokin

SHAMOKIN, Pa. -- The bus parked on West Pine Street in Shamokin is not your average bus. It's part of God's Chuckwagon, a mobile soup kitchen.

The nonprofit formed in 2011 after the flood.

"So, we put a pot of soup in the back of a Chevy Malibu and we started God's Chuckwagon," Pastor Jim Bowers said.

Pastor Jim Bowers and his wife run God's Chuckwagon out of a building in Shamokin. They serve nearly 2,000 meals a month in a dozen communities. God's Chuckwagon does not usually serve meals in January and February, but this year the organization had a lot of food donations.

Volunteers with God's Chuckwagon planned to serve lunches on Fridays in January and February outside the facility in Shamokin, but Shamokin officials won't allow it.

"We got a registered letter saying we were not allowed to do that," Bowers said.

"This was a no-no. This couldn't take place," Bob Slaby said.

Bob Slaby is Shamokin's city administrator. He tells Newswatch 16 God's Chuckwagon has a permit to serve meals at one location in Shamokin. The group did not apply for a permit to serve outside its facility, which is in a residential neighborhood. A zoning permit in Shamokin is typically free for nonprofits.

"To open up on a public street on the city of Shamokin, another location, that was not permitted," Slaby said.

"Real frustrating. All we want to do is help people. We want to make sure people are fed. That's all we ever wanted to do," Bowers said.

Slaby says there have been complaints from neighbors in the area. But the Bearden family thinks having a soup kitchen outside is a good idea.

"Just because it's near people's houses and they're wanting to serve the homeless, it's not hurting anybody," Stephanie Bearden said.

"I think it's a good thing. I know I would want that help if I was in that need," Daniel Bearden said.

Volunteers with God's Chuckwagon tell us while food donations are up, monetary donations are down. That means they can't just take their bus and feed people at their normal spot in Shamokin right now, which is why they wanted to bring people to them.

3 comments

      • Giggity-MF-goo

        Typically…. but not this time? hmmm. I got my bifocals on buddy haha . However, as usual, they forgot to investigate on why this is a “no no”. Its local politics at its best. If your not lining their pockets, you get bounced out quickly.

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