Broad Street Ministry serving Christmas cheer to those in need

    A Philadelphia ministry serving the homeless and hungry says it appreciates holiday volunteers, but wants more of them to stick around for the long haul.

    Steve Seibel is the head chef at Broad Street Ministry just south of City Hall. 

    It’s Christmas day, and he’s in the kitchen with a handful a volunteers putting the finishing touches on turkey dinner for 400.

    “This is crazy,” Seibel said. “I’ve never had this many people in the kitchen at once. So it’s interesting.”

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    I have to ask. “Is it true what they say about too many chefs?”

    “It is,” said Seibel, laughing. “It’s definitely true, but they’re doing a great job.”

    It’s usually just him and a sous chef, explains Seibel, who used to do executive dining at Comcast.

    In demand

    Broad Street Ministry recently added two meals to its weekly offering, bringing the total to five. Seibel says when he started just three months ago, the ministry served food to about 500 people a week.

    Now it’s nearly 1,100.

    “There have been a lot more people coming, but I can’t attribute it to one thing or another,” said Melissa DeFreece, the volunteer and development manager at Broad Street Ministry.

    On Christmas day over 60 volunteers from two local synagogues were signed up to help. Some were sorting mountains of donated clothing while others prepped the cavernous sanctuary where meals are served.

    “We do a see a little bit of a surge in terms of volunteers wanting to get involved for the holiday season,” DeFreece said. “However, we do need volunteers on other days beyond the holidays. So that the catch-22.”

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