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Soup kitchen takes over free food stall

JUST one week after the free congee booth in Yiwu City, Zhejiang Province, was shut down, the Huamei Soup Kitchen has opened in exactly the same place serving free buns and porridge to the needy.

Lin Ruxin, the former boss of the congee booth which was closed because it failed to meet hygiene standards, is back there as a volunteer, the Oriental Morning Post reported today.

The determined businessman from Zhejiang's Wenzhou City had been serving free food to the hungry 65 days before his booth was closed on April 5.

The Huamei Soup Kitchen in Zhejiang's Jinhua, which had been set up on March 15, then opened its Yiwu outlet to keep Lin's good work going.

Huamei's boss, surnamed He, applied for the business license this time and plans to serve the poor in Yiwu at least 10 years. "We have a detailed budget and won't give up," He said.

He and his staff arrived in Yiwu early yesterday with porridge and buns and installed a rainproof awning where Lin's booth stood. More than 1,000 breakfasts were served in an hour.

Huamei's Jinhua store offers free meals at noon and in the late afternoon. Clients can have porridge, two appetizers and two buns – with extras allowed for those with extra big stomachs.

About 3,000 people visit the kitchen every day - 80 percent are low-income migrant workers, 10 percent are residents and the rest are homeless.

He promises a 10-year operation and expects it will cost between 800,000 yuan (US$117,000) and 1 million yuan annually.

He has talked to Lin about the future of the business. "We have funds, staff and won't give up half way," He said. "It's like a baton relay of love," he added.


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