Rachella Leggett, right, and Tonia Alston, co-owners of the Copperas Cove Soup Kitchen, stand near their new facility on North First Street on May 31.

Two Army veterans recently opened a soup kitchen for people looking to fill themselves with food and knowledge.

The Copperas Cove Soup Kitchen staff and Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau members gathered at the new facility on North First Street for a ribbon-cutting ceremonyMay 31.

“This idea came up about three years ago when I went in for a gastric bypass surgery,” said Rachella Leggett, co-owner of the soup kitchen. “I weighed 240 pounds and had complications.”

Leggett has undergone at least a dozen more surgeries since the first operation and had to be revived twice. “They were able to bring me back eventually,” she said. “It gets you to thinking what you can do and how can you help (others).”

Leggett, who served in the military during the Gulf War, lost weight and is now at 92 pounds. Through the hospital visits, the soup kitchen remained a dream for her.

“I love to cook and that is the best thing I can do to help my community,” Leggett said. “There are a lot of kids that are out here hungry, and adults as well, so we wanted to feed Copperas Cove.”

Tonia Alston, Leggett’s sister, plans to incorporate counseling military veterans at the facility.

“This is for feeding folks and working with veterans,” Alston said. “It feels good to know you are doing something for your community.”

Leggett said they also want to give cooking, reading and writing lessons to children.

The soup kitchen meals are free and include more than soup.

“Whoever is hungry that walks through that door and wants to eat, we will feed them,” Leggett said.

The facility, which also has a public shower and restroom, is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For more information, call (254) 661-0463.

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