If you’ve never been inside a soup kitchen you may be unaware of what goes on inside it. Some people have very particular predictions of what it must be like. For example, some people think of a group of homeless people fighting over food with a couple of old ladies serving soup from a large bowl. Others imagine a very sad, quiet place full of people who barley have the strength to bring their spoon to their mouth.
The reality could not be more different.
There are certainly differences between soup kitchens, but most share some common aspects. The first and most apparent is that they don’t look like a “kitchen” at all – most soup kitchens are set up with tables and chairs and look no different from a standard eatery.
The food quality? It’s good. Soup kitchens may be run by volunteers but that does not mean the food is of below par standard. On the contrary, many of the volunteers have been cooking for years and are really no different from a trade certified chef. The kitchen is a hectic place, as is any kitchen in any restaurant. There is food to be made and orders to be filled.
The main difference is the clientele. Yes, there is plenty of homeless. You will notice a disproportionate amount of elderly folk coming to the soup kitchen. These are the folk that are not as visible on the streets. They hide away during the day to escape the crowds, but need to be fed like the rest of us. There are also those that simply can’t afford to feed themselves and their large family even though they are not homeless. And then there are the lonely – the people that come to eat around others because they have no one else.
The best part of a soup kitchen is also the volunteers. They are there for one major purpose – to help. So as you can imagine, they are some of the kindest people in the general population. This also results in an environment where regardless of whether of food quality, the people getting fed are happy and satisfied. This is not to say the quality is poor, but simply that it is not the purpose of a soup kitchen.
Soup kitchens are not depressing. They are a place to eat and enjoy food together, and if you have not volunteered in one yet, now is the time to do it. We can all lend a hand in helping others.