Soup kitchens are known the world over for offering a warm plate of food to the hungry.
Observatory has always been a little left-of-centre and so we evolved the concept to create the Obs Pasta Kitchen.
Every Wednesday evening we offer a hot bowl of pasta to the many needy residents (often homeless) and passers-through in Observatory. But more than providing a meal it’s about creating connections with the people on the streets and developing a long-term strategy to help elevate their lives.
Not just a “soup kitchen”
“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime.”
A known dilemma of charity organisations is that handouts solve short-term problems but perpetuate longer term ones. To truly help the homeless and needy our goal should be to empower these people to help themselves.
So while the Obs Pasta Kitchen solves the short-term problem of hungry bellies, we have a higher purpose and long-term plan.
The Obs Pasta Kitchen is not just about handouts. This is more than a plate of food but an introduction to a long-lasting relationship.
Our volunteers will not only be handing out food but engaging with our guests. We are offering emotional support and an ear to listen with the aim of discovering how we can help these people more.
We would like to make ourselves available to change these people’s lives, to ultimately help them get off the street. It’s the opportunity for them to introduce themselves and share a load. It’s about acknowledging the co-existence of each other in this community. It’s about giving those often ignored the time of day and the dignity we all deserve.
We want to understand the issues at play, how we can help, what skills we can share, and how we can get these people off the street one phase at a time.
The Obs Pasta Kitchen offers a plate of food with a side-helping of hope for a better future.
What’s next? Our Plan of Action.
- Get to know our community of homeless and needy residents using the Pasta Kitchen as a starting block
- Offer emotional support through listening and demonstrating empathy
- Discover through conversation what the key problems are
- Identify which of these are immediately solvable by the community
- Identify strategies for larger issues
- Set up voucher system encouraging community work like picking up litter in exchange for “extras” at the Pasta Kitchen like cheese on the pasta
- Get involved with Loaves and Fishes, already actively involved in supporting the homeless community
- Look at setting up open days at the community hall with various helpful services – these could include counselling, skills-sharing, health tests, assistance with ID applications etc – related to identified issues
- Encourage community involvement from permanent residents to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots and establish a culture of understanding and empathy