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Soul Food

Shirley Combs thought she was starting a restaurant—but in her obedience to God, it became so much more.

Tim Rhodes May 4, 2024

Homelessness and food insecurity have been on the rise in the United States for decades. Today, millions of Americans live with constant worry about where they’ll sleep or get their next meal.

Photograph by Ben Rollins

Shirley Combs witnessed this firsthand in her hometown of Toccoa, Georgia. As the owner of Shirley’s Sole Food Cafe, she uses her restaurant to serve neighbors in need. Following the lunch rush, she invites a line of hungry people inside for a hot meal. Then, after filling plates or to-go boxes, she joins her guests at their tables, talking and praying with them. Combs has also launched a pair of homeless shelters to care for friends getting back on their feet (hence, the name “Sole Food”).

As she works in her kitchen, Combs listens to In Touch’s radio broadcast and—as Dr. Stanley’s sermons often remind her to do—trusts God and His purpose for her life. “There’s nothing I’ve done that I could’ve done without God,” she says. “He prepares everything I need. It seems like everything just falls right into place.”

In 2019, Shirley Combs was honored by the Georgia General Assembly for service to those experiencing poverty. Because of her generosity, over 300 people have found help in restoring their lives.

Watch Shirley’s story at

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