Florida chef helping fight hunger 365 days a year: ‘I do it to see the smiles’
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (WPEC) — September is “Hunger Action Month,” a time to raise awareness about the rising cost of food in an economy that makes it harder for people to meet their basic needs around the country and right here in our community.
Chef Pete Moschonas serves more than a thousand meals a day at The Soup Kitchen in Boynton Beach, Florida, feeding those who may not otherwise have access to a hot, nutritious meal.
Typical day is fun, I start at 3:30 in the morning, I turn on the lights and the ovens,” he said. “I start my soups and proteins and I have everything in order for the next volunteers that come in at 7 a.m.”
Volunteers are the heart of the kitchen’s efforts to feed the hungry in Palm Beach County. Moschonas himself started as a volunteer before officially taking over in the kitchen three years ago.
“I want to help the community and I always wanted to do this,” he said.
CEO Marlene Meija said Pete is dedicated to what he does and everyone at the organization is proud to work alongside him.
“The man is not only great in what he does, but he’s got a great heart,” Meija said. “He’s passionate about what he does, and we really couldn’t run a kitchen without him.”
Meija said the struggle these days is rising need and a drop in donations. But that’s just another reason they are grateful to have Moschonas and his positive attitude on the team.
“He cooks a meal out of thin air because it’s whatever comes in that truck that’s going into the menu,” she said.
But Jerry McGinnis, who volunteers at The Soup Kitchen, said that’s never a problem for Moschonas.
“We just kind of make things up as we go on a daily basis out of whatever comes in the back door and he’s very creative and we have a good time,” he said.
McGinnis said Moschonas is the reason he comes in every day, and Moschonas comes in here because of the line of people outside.
The people that I see that are in need that’s what drives me,” Moschonas said. “It’s thrilling when we hand out the meals and the extra stuff and hearing the good mornings, I do it to see the smiles on the faces.”
Moschonas also packs the Meals on Wheels for senior citizens who can’t leave home.
He teaches culinary skills to foster kids who have aged out of the system so they can find work, part of the organization’s LiftUP program.
Even though he’s supposed to have Sundays off, and the kitchen is closed, he knows hunger doesn’t rest, so you can usually find the chef working then, too.