A “Typical” Day at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen
A day at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen is like life: quite often it’s unpredictable, and the pace can change at any given moment. Our tasks are varied and include preparing and serving meals to the physically and spiritually hungry within our community, much like big family gathering.
A ‘typical’ Monday through Friday involves starts with the soup kitchen staff gathering the supplies for the day. The doors are opened for the volunteers at 3:00 pm. Then the action begins. Tables are set and the meal is prepared. There are donations, such as fresh produce and bread which are arranged in our ‘take home’ area – these items are for our guests’ use at home.
At 4:15, the soup kitchen doors are opened wide to welcome our guests. Cold drinks like juice, milk and water are served to them at their seats; hot drinks such as coffee and tea are self-serve. The atmosphere is like a reunion as people chat, reconnect, and share stories.
The meal is ready by 4:30, and that is when one of our volunteers or staff members calls for everyone’s attention; we then offer an impromptu blessing on the gathering and thanks for the provision of the meal.
Meals are then served restaurant style: Plates are prepared in the kitchen, and served by the volunteers manning the dining room. Once everyone is served, the delivered meals (for our homebound guests) are prepared. After the deliveries are set to go, seconds are served to those in the dining room. The dirty, empty plates are removed from the tables and brought back to the dishwasher. Clean plates are used for second and third helpings. We like to provide as many servings as people desire. Meals are served until 5:30 pm.
Once most of our guests have eaten, dessert will be circulated. The rule for dessert is the same here as it is at most homes. Only those guests who have eaten (or have attempted to eat) meals are allowed to have dessert. Our mission, after all, is to provide a nutritionally balanced meal to those in need.
When a guest leaves, we clear the dishes and send them to the dishwasher. Once a table is completely vacant, all remaining dishes are sent to the dishwasher, whether it was used or not, for sanitation; any food left on the table is thrown away. The chairs are folded and placed on top of the tables.
We begin to sweep when the dining room is empty, or 5:30, whichever comes first. The kitchen is also cleaned, swept and mopped, as well as the bathrooms.
Volunteers are usually finished slightly before 6:00 pm. The building is locked up and all is quiet until the next day.