A soup kitchen opened on Thursday in Datan (大潭) community in Chiayi County’s Singang Township (新港) to provide free meals for elderly residents.
The kitchen, Chaoyuan Canteen, bears the name of its founder, Lin Chao-yuan (林昭元), who died on Jan. 17 at the age of 83.
Lin, born in 1930 to a poor family living in Datan, graduated from university and became a successful businessman.
Although Lin lived and worked in Taipei for most of his life, he often went back to Singang and was concerned about the lack of development in his hometown.
He financed the building of a community center in the township and provided funds to rebuild a temple which was badly damaged by the magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck Taiwan on Sept. 21, 1999.
After learning that many elderly people were living alone without proper care or support, Lin last year decided to set up a soup kitchen financed by stock dividends.
The kitchen is to provide lunches only two days a week, but could serve meals three days a week in the future, according to Chiayi County Councilor Lin Hsiu-chin (林秀琴), who presided over the canteen’s opening ceremony.
When it is not serving meals, the canteen will be used as a community center where volunteers will keep elderly people company during the day, Lin Hsiu-chin said.
She asked those attending the ceremony to observe a minute of silence for Lin Chao-yuan.
Attendees, including Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang (張花冠) and her predecessor, Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), also released white balloons in memory of the canteen’s founder.
After the ceremony, the kitchen treated about 40 people aged 65 and older to a four-course meal including soup.