Delaware’s soup lady works around zoning issues for soup kitchen [video]

A reality TV show brought new hope to a Rehoboth woman and her soup kitchen.  But local zoning laws turned it into a nightmare.  Now some divine intervention has given her new hope.

Almost two years ago, Dale Dunning was recognized on a hit television series where producers created an even better facility for her to work in but zoning and code issues caused a problem limiting use of the new site until now.

After more than a decade of serving the community, what started out as a dream come true for Dunning quickly turned into a bit of a challenge when she wasn’t allowed to use her ranch home that was renovated by the hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition as a soup kitchen. Two years later, she finally figured out a way to work around the stumbling block.

“I don’t always know what’s best, I think I do and then when things happen and a door shuts, you go what’s going on with this door,” said Dunning who wakes up daily around midnight to prepare soup.

Despite the challenge, Dale continued preparing meals, just soup to be exact, for the community but serving those in need was mainly done out of an older location. Unfortunately zoning issues kept Dale from moving the “Jusst Sooup” kitchen from Rehoboth to her renovated ranch in Milton, but today relocating the soup kitchen is now an option.

“So now it’s going to be a church, that way its a wide variety of people that you can bring hope too. That’s what the soup kitchen does, you feed! So what I will be doing is feeding people in the physical and I will be feeding them in the spiritual which is even better,” said Dunning.

Current AR-1 zoning of the “Jusst Sooup” ranch which doesn’t permit Dale to serve the public actually permits her to use the property as a church.

“I’m looking forward to it because I love the people. To me people are people. I don’t care what their background is or what they look like or whatever. People are people and they need to be encouraged and to be loved and in loving them it encourages me and builds me up too,” said Dunning.

“It’s going to be good. She’s going to have a very unique church because she has very unique people that she serves,” said Louis Carter.

Louis Carter, a long time friend and worker at the soup kitchen says it was only a matter of time for Dale to lead people to church.

“She has always helped people in need. I can remember when she was homeless at one time and she drove a car that was horrible but she always looked beautiful when she got out and she always had people with her. She always brought people to church, she always fed people she always took what she had and gave it to her neighbors. She just has that kind of heart,” said Carter who calls herself a spiritual mother to Dunning.

Although Dale admits that she never saw herself becoming a minister, she hopes that many of the people she calls “soupers” will be apart of her congregation.

“You know when they are here there are times they’ll ask me to pray for them or I’ll say to them would you like for me to pray and we pray, so we’re going to take it to the next level,” said Dunning.

The project to convert the Milton property into a church which will be called “Juust Souup Ministries Church” is still in the beginning stages. Right now the property has already been approved for work to begin which will happen over the next few weeks. The completion date has yet to be set.

Through all the zoning challenges, Dale Dunning wrote down her experience and shared a little more about herself in a book titled “Jusst Dale.”

“I’ve always had a burning desire to share my thoughts with others you know when you are in ministry, it takes all of you and there are times that are rough, tough, hard and very difficult, so I wanted to write a book to talk about my life,” said Dunning.

Although she’s excited to encourage a congregation full of people in church, she looks forward to reaching even more individuals through the book.

“When you know you’ve been called, don’t give up, you walk it out,” said Dunning.

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