A hot meal for 5c.

So I drive past something called the Service Dining Rooms everymorning. Ancient red brick building just off Roeland Street with an ancient-looking sign that says: Hot meals for 5c. Must say on those days when you really don’t know what you have in your fridge and you really don’t feel like cooking when you got home, that sign has more than intrigued me.

I decided to stop the other day while on leave and see what they’re all about. This year I did the let’s-not-spend-too-much-on-my-birthday-let’s rather-pay-it-forward thing. The cold and wet so far has really made me take things down a gear or two and spare a thought to the many less fortunate around me. So off I trotted to the 5c place more out of curiosity but also fully prepared with donation in hand.

This was my first visit to a real ‘soup kitchen’. Have been to one my DH’s church runs but never the real thing. Wow. The volunteers are amazing and some of them have ‘real’ jobs but come out when they’re not working or work shifts, etc. They also told me that the place has been getting a bit of bad press as some community paper journalist went there and saw old, rotting food and made a big stink about it. Old rotting food was not part of my experience. The place looked and smelt pretty clean to me.

The homeless and destitute there made it difficult for one to pull up your nose at them. They had such dignity and respect. I couldn’t get to call any of them on their names only as most of them were way older than me. So I’ve added a whole lot of uncles and aunties to my family. I had so much fun with them and when they insisted that I sit and eat with them, imagine my surprise when the food came and it was actually edible. The food comes from the Feedback system supermarkets like Woolies and PnP participate in. So it’s food that’s about to reach sell-by date or has reached it but still edible.

First course was soup – yummy butternut soup from PnP followed by Woolies lasagne and we polished it off with brandy pudding nogal! All my new uncles and aunties wanted to know if I drink because the pudding has brandy in it and I shouldn’t have it if I’m not a drinker! Sweet – but I think they were trying to hog the brandy…

And the best part of all this was that when they heard it was my birthday, they offered to pay for my meal! How special is that?!

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49 thoughts on “A hot meal for 5c.

  1. FoxieRox

    This is so lovely you’ve made me cry. When I lived in Cape Town I was often intrigued by that sign and now I’m ashamed to say that I never took it further than that. Definitely an inspiring post.

    Reply
  2. FoxieRox

    This is so lovely you’ve made me cry. When I lived in Cape Town I was often intrigued by that sign and now I’m ashamed to say that I never took it further than that. Definitely an inspiring post.

    Reply
  3. rebeccav

    Wow! That sounds awesome! And how sweet that they offered to pay for your meal for your birthday :)Wait a sec? Did I miss your birthday? Man, I’m a bad blogger 😦 Happy belated birthday! And I’m really sorry I missed it!

    Reply
  4. rebeccav

    Wow! That sounds awesome! And how sweet that they offered to pay for your meal for your birthday :)Wait a sec? Did I miss your birthday? Man, I’m a bad blogger 😦 Happy belated birthday! And I’m really sorry I missed it!

    Reply
  5. rochelle.barrish

    Didn’t make a big doodabby about my birthday this year as part of the taking things down a gear or two. People who know me are gobsmacked – my birthday has always been a time for extreme excess. Must be a sign that I’m finally growing up OR that the number of candles on the cake is just too much. xxx

    Reply
  6. rochelle.barrish

    Didn’t make a big doodabby about my birthday this year as part of the taking things down a gear or two. People who know me are gobsmacked – my birthday has always been a time for extreme excess. Must be a sign that I’m finally growing up OR that the number of candles on the cake is just too much. xxx

    Reply
  7. danile

    Sounds like a good place of which more is needed. Happy birthday Shell. You just made me really hungry!

    Reply
  8. danile

    Sounds like a good place of which more is needed. Happy birthday Shell. You just made me really hungry!

    Reply
  9. chanua

    Oh wow how absolutely sweet of them. They have so little yet they are still willing to share. Not at all the soup kitchen I would have imagined either. Have a great day!

    Reply
  10. chanua

    Oh wow how absolutely sweet of them. They have so little yet they are still willing to share. Not at all the soup kitchen I would have imagined either. Have a great day!

    Reply
  11. rochelle.barrish

    I know and I was really torn between saying thanks and no thanks but they were obviously feeling flush and I donated more than my 5c meal cost them so I didn’t feel too bad and they could hang onto their dignity as well and say they paid for someone’s meal.

    Reply
  12. rochelle.barrish

    I know and I was really torn between saying thanks and no thanks but they were obviously feeling flush and I donated more than my 5c meal cost them so I didn’t feel too bad and they could hang onto their dignity as well and say they paid for someone’s meal.

    Reply
  13. shazdart

    What a wonderful experience! I think it is a great thing to do.I wonder if this would be a good place to donate unneeded clothes,shoes etc. Let me know will you Shell, this could be a good experience for Jess too! xx

    Reply
  14. shazdart

    What a wonderful experience! I think it is a great thing to do.I wonder if this would be a good place to donate unneeded clothes,shoes etc. Let me know will you Shell, this could be a good experience for Jess too! xx

    Reply
  15. rochelle.barrish

    It was! I actually asked and they said it just gets too ugly if they have clothes going as well. A colleague says she takes her daughter to Nazareth house in Vredehoek. That could be a start? xx

    Reply
  16. rochelle.barrish

    It was! I actually asked and they said it just gets too ugly if they have clothes going as well. A colleague says she takes her daughter to Nazareth house in Vredehoek. That could be a start? xx

    Reply
  17. lyndamadd

    What an incredible story!!!! Thank you for sharing it with us. It sounds as though your birthday was splendid and I wish you just as splendid a year to go with it. Right now I’m off to fetch a tissue – you made me all teary πŸ™‚

    Reply
  18. lyndamadd

    What an incredible story!!!! Thank you for sharing it with us. It sounds as though your birthday was splendid and I wish you just as splendid a year to go with it. Right now I’m off to fetch a tissue – you made me all teary πŸ™‚

    Reply
  19. ludditelass

    Happy Birthday, Shell! What a special experience to have to celebrate your birthday. It’s so interesting to read your experience having just read the follow-up article to the one you mention in this week’s People’s Post. In the follow-up article, the lady who organises the soup kitchen said the article has cost them a whole lot of food from Shoprite. She was in tears because now they can’t feed as many people as they used to. I must say the first article was going for sensation based on an isolated incident rather than looking at all the good that the soup kitchen does. I think that’s irresponsible journalism.

    Reply
  20. ludditelass

    Happy Birthday, Shell! What a special experience to have to celebrate your birthday. It’s so interesting to read your experience having just read the follow-up article to the one you mention in this week’s People’s Post. In the follow-up article, the lady who organises the soup kitchen said the article has cost them a whole lot of food from Shoprite. She was in tears because now they can’t feed as many people as they used to. I must say the first article was going for sensation based on an isolated incident rather than looking at all the good that the soup kitchen does. I think that’s irresponsible journalism.

    Reply
  21. Pingback: Roeland is where the heart is! – tasneemvanrooyen

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