Soup kitchens were widespread during the Great Depression and offered some people the only food that they had to eat during those difficult days. Churches and charities opened soup kitchens to provide what was typically a simple meal of soup and bread to hungry masses.
High unemployment caused great need among American families. Additionally, the drought and dust storms that hit the Great Plains wreaked havoc on agriculture in that region. Farmers could not grow food enough to feed their own families, and ultimately many lost their farms. Many Americans were suffering, and soup kitchens opened in many places. Even Al Capone, an infamous gangster, sponsored a soup kitchen in Chicago.