Soup kitchen looking for cooks

The St Peter’s Soup Kitchen has been feeding the needy around Hout Bay for over 30 years.

A soup kitchen that has been in operation for over 30 years are in search of volunteer cooks to spice up their growing feeding initiative.

The St Peter’s Soup Kitchen operates once a week and due to the increased need for their services, they urgently seek the help of cooks to feed the needy in their community.

Former cook and now co-ordinating the project, Tim Cartwright, explained that most of Hout Bay’s charity suppliers and donors as well as those that do the physical distribution, have been under increased stress since the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe.

Mr Cartwright explained that it was recently estimated that nearly 40% of Imizamo Yethu men of working age are now unemployed.

“Some survive on the grants from the state to the mothers of their children or on the relatively few unemployment payments made to those who have lost bona fide jobs and can now handle the clerical work required to access the state’s funds, but most just suffer – waiting several days a week at selected points on the off chance that they will pick up an hour or two’s or even a full day’s work,” Mr Cartwright said.

In November last year, once lockdown regulations had eased, the soup kitchen decided to pack up their operation at the Anglican Church in Hout Bay and go on the move, serving several homeless people with buttered sandwiches, soup and warm meals, driving around and maintaining safe social distancing, (“Soup kitchen on the move”, Sentinel News, November 27, 2020).

Mr Cartwright said the need for their food has grown and their operations are required to expand to meet the growing demands of the needy.

“In addition to serving the homeless on the beachfront, near the shopping centres and in the harbour area, for the time being, they are taking food to various points where the unemployed gather in the hope of finding work—and they are now serving 80 plus meals a time,” Mr Cartwright said.

Nadine Spencer-Derman and her sister Janine are in the front line of this operation but it is the soup makers on whom much of the responsibility falls, because the distributors cannot make enough soup and sandwiches on their own.

“Please respond to this call,” Ms Spencer-Derman asked. “Every cup and every piece of peanut-buttered bread is appreciated and the valley’s community spirit is improved. This desperate situation will not last forever, but while there is a need, please step forward and lend a hand. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are working not just for your own good, but for those most in need.”

Jonathan Mbekweni from Imizamo Yethu was a cleaner at a local Hout Bay business for nearly 15 years, but he was sidelined when the pandemic struck.

He said within the space of three days, his entire life was turned upside down, as his eldest son also lost his job in the same week.

“Two salaries in the same household lost in the same month; it left us broken and we didn’t know what to do at all. Ever since, I have been running after food parcels and soup kitchens to survive,” he said.

Today, Mr Mbekweni sits alongside the road hoping to be picked up for work, along with several other men who had lost their jobs during lockdown.

“What can we do?” Mr Mbekweni smiled nervously. “We have to sit here and hope for the best, but the soup kitchen and parcels make it easier on us and help us through. But you can’t live like that. You can’t raise a family on handouts and that is the part I would love to change. I need work to support my family.”

An appeal has therefore been made for more volunteer cooks and sandwich makers.

“Such people need only be involved once a month, but if enough come forward, the pressure on the hardcore devoted cooks and sandwich makers will be relieved,” Mr Cartwright said.

To get more information and possibly become a part-time cook or helper, contact Tim Cartwright on 083 443 5534.