Twenty years ago, God told Dale Dunning to “feed his sheep,” she says, so she picked up a stock pot and started making soup.
Since then, she’s fed thousands of people, opening 18 soup kitchens and founding the Jusst Sooup ministry, which she runs out of The Ranch, the name she has for her home and commercial kitchen near Lewes.
“We’re still feeding people, still loving on people,” says Dunning, who calls those she feeds her “Soupers.”
Dunning’s devotion to the cause earned her a 2009 TV appearance as part of Oprah’s Heroes in Hard Times series, and a story in People magazine. She also had a song and book written about her, and in 2011, a special edition of the television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition built a new house and commercial kitchen at The Ranch.
Every Wednesday at 9:45 p.m., Dunning begins her task of cooking through the night to prepare for the soup kitchen on Thursday. As the sun comes up, she starts doing laundry for the homeless. She also holds a weekly prayer group and Bible study, and feeds the members of a shelter for veterans on Friday. In between, she’s working to raise $10,000 to enclose a porch off the kitchen to make a “ministry room.”
Dunning has never taken a paycheck for her work, explaining that making money isn’t her goal. She’s aiming higher, she says: “We are hoping that through all this, people will see the love of Christ through us and hunger for that.”