Hundreds of down and outs at a local soup kitchen saw their luck change briefly on Thursday when they spotted First Lady Michelle Obama dishing out mushroom risotto during a surprise visit.
For about 15 minutes, Obama scooped steaming hot food onto plates for 50 men and women inside Miriam's Kitchen, a privately funded organisation in a Presbyterian church, which has helped the homeless for 26 years.
The visit, the first of its kind to the shelter by a first lady, is part of Obama's campaign to spotlight local organisations, connect with the city and help those in need amid the economic crisis. “We are facing some tough times in this country,” said Obama. “There is a moment in time when each and every one of us needs a helping hand.”
Obama urged others to get involved in their communities and lend a hand, especially to those who call streets home.
The first lady's office provided the soup kitchen with eight cases of fresh fruit, enough for two weeks of meals, some of which was dished out as fruit salad Thursday. There was also steamed broccoli, apple-carrot muffins and whole wheat rolls to accompany the risotto.
Pierre Carter, 61, a homeless and wheelchair-bound man, was among the gleeful crowd lining up to shake Obama's hand and thank her.
Carter has eaten breakfast at the shelter inside Western Presbyterian Church for the past three months and said the lines are getting longer.
But visits to the food kitchen help keep his spirits up during these difficult days. “You come in here and you feel like a person again,” Carter said.
“We're really just thrilled that our new neighbors took notice of what we're doing,” said director Sara Gibson, referring to the new occupants of the White House.