During the Great Depression Al Capone started one of the first soup kitchens, called “Free Soup Coffee & Doughnuts for the Unemployed.” Capone’s soup kitchen served breakfast, lunch and dinner to an average of 2,200 Chicagoans every day
Inside the soup kitchen, smiling women in white aprons served up coffee and sweet rolls for breakfast, soup and bread for lunch and soup, coffee and bread for dinner. No second helpings were denied. No questions were asked, and no one was asked to prove their need.
The soup kitchen added to Capone’s Robin Hood reputation with a segment of Americans who saw him as a hero for the common man. They pointed to the newspaper reports of the handouts he gave to widows and orphans. When the government deprived them of beer and alcohol during Prohibition, Capone delivered it to them. When the government failed to feed them in their desperate days, the crime boss gave them food. For anyone who felt conflicted about taking charity from a gangster, hunger trumped principles.