GULFPORT (WLOX) -- The long search for a new home is over for a Gulfport soup kitchen. Thursday, city officials broke ground for the new Feed My Sheep kitchen and dining facility on 19th Street.
Since they first opened in 1983, the rules have remained the same at Feed My Sheep in downtown Gulfport.
"You can't come in drunk, you can't come in high on drugs, and you can't come in with a bad attitude. But besides that, anyone can come in and have a free lunch, Monday through Friday," Board Chairman Ted Riemann said.
But there's been no such thing as a free lunch since Hurricane Katrina flattened Feed My Sheep's old home.
Mayor Brent Warr experienced the destruction in real time while talking on the phone to Fire Chief Pat Sullivan.
"He said, 'The Gaston Hewes Recreation Center just imploded,'" Mayor Warr remembered.
Feed My Sheep will soon have a new home on 19th Street. The project is a partnership between the city, state and federal agencies committed to helping the less fortunate.
Once complete, around Thanksgiving 2008, the quarter million dollar, 6,000 square foot facility will serve an average of 500 meals a day.
It's a beacon of hope Councilwoman Libby Milner Rowland says she's happy to have back in Ward two.
"It is giving the people of this community an opportunity to serve the Lord by feeding their sheep. It is the privilege of the opportunity that matters so much," Milner Rowland said.
"I got up this morning feeling like a six or 7-year-old child anticipating Christmas. A lot of anticipation and joy because it has been two, two and a half years for this today. We now know it's coming out of the ground," Riemann said.
Feed My Sheep also provides a Meals on Wheels program that formerly served about 200 mostly elderly shut-ins daily.