Please tell us about Ladles of Love.
Ladles Of Love is a non-profit organization that feeds homeless members of our society across Cape Town. We run a soup kitchen four times a week and serve over 450 hearty and scrumptious meals to the homeless. Through our soup kitchens, we provide a platform for people who care to come together to feed the hungry and make a difference.
A bowl of soup may not sound like much, but it’s a lifeline to some. Our soup kitchens are about more than simply providing food; it’s about dignity, respect, and creating the kind of world we all want to live in. We also feed schools and other communities in need – in ‘normal’ times we serve +/- 12000 meals per month.
Ladles was established in 2014, how have you grown and evolved over the years to answer the needs of your (Cape Town) community?
Since we began in 2014 with a small team of volunteers serving not more than 70 hot meals, we have now adopted several feeding schemes and extensive operations with the same kitchen serving over 200 meals each time on four different days in a week. We have extended our horizon by working with underprivileged schools in Cape Town to deliver food to school children under an initiative called The Munch Club. The Munch club is our feeding scheme which provides yummy, healthy food to schools in need. We started The Munch Club to tackle a serious problem which so many schools are facing – the fact that many children are arriving at school hungry. They’ve often travelled long distances to attend classes and often have no lunch with them. Many kids qualify for free school lunches – but lots of schools simply don’t have the budget or the resource to provide them.
Our organization gladly welcomes any business cooperation to partner with or sponsor a school and help us tackle the issue of hunger at school. When we adopt a school on to the feeding scheme, we commit long-term, building a sustainable relationship with students and teachers alike so that they can really rely on us to be there every single lunchtime. We have dedicated and outstanding partners who help us fund the Munch Club initiative like Exact clothing.
We also run the Love Can Project, which is a community project. We hold regular drives to collect non-perishable goods and toiletries for those in need. Each drive has a theme such as tinned food, toiletries or baby products. Donations are sorted by our volunteers into care packages and redistributed to communities, schools, and safe-houses in need. We recently joined forces with Ikamva Labantu as we were very touched by their Afternoon Angels project.
Let’s jump into what’s happening right now. Because you are an essential service, you can operate over this time…
As a soup kitchen and feeding scheme, we provide an essential service to the homeless community and other vulnerable people of Cape Town. We intend to not only keep feeding our existing clients but to expand as much as we can to support the efforts of the City and other NPOs working together to feed the vulnerable at this time.
Are you feeding more people than usual?
We are now serving 2000 hearty meals a day to the most vulnerable members of our community to keep them nourished during the lock-down. We are supporting some of the temporary shelters with additional meals for residents, working to ensure those left on the street are not abandoned. We are also working with communities in need to provide food/meal packs.
How have you expanded to meet the demand?
To give you some perspective on the sheer scale-up of our operations. We usually serve 12000 meals A MONTH (avg 400 meals a day). Currently, we are serving 2000 meals A DAY. These meals get shared between the Culemborg Safe Space and The Haven Night Shelter (where the city has set up temporary shelters for the homeless).
We’ve been able to expand through our remarkable network of volunteers and donors, as well as connecting with amazing local restaurants (such as Janse & Co) who run the kitchen and coordinate the cooking for us.
Tell us about your volunteers?
We are privileged with dedicated volunteers from all over the world, who help us with everything from setting up our pop-up serving stations to food serving to cleaning up. With the current situation, we have had to make changes to the way we operate by limiting the number of volunteers, adhering to the COVID-19 regulations and implementing safe, hygienic measures.
We have taken stringent measures to keep our volunteers safe at all times; all volunteers are now pre-registered and issued with an exemption. They must also complete a health survey each week.
Ladles “hopes to inspire and provide support for others who would like to start similar kitchens.” Tell us about your network?
As mentioned above, we are working with lots of NPOs, businesses and CAN groups to help them support more people. We’ve been very touched to see how the community as sprung into action to help those most in need. Long may that continue.