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?!