This article was posted on Huffingtonpost.com on March 4th, 2016 by Elyse Wanshel. It discusses a new type of soup kitchen that has opened up in Kansas City, Missouri. It is called Kansas City Community Kitchen, which has been around for about 30 years but has recently, on February 5th, changed its entire look and feel. Its new design diverges from the traditional structure of soup kitchens. Instead of the regular set-up, it is designed to look like a real restaurant — with actual greeters, waiters and servers! Furthermore, the food that is served there also differs from what regular soup kitchens tend to serve. There are actual menus, with choices of several high-quality lunches such as these:
The menu was actually created by an executive chef, Michael Curry, who is the owner of the Kansas City restaurant called ‘Lil’ Bubba’!
Another great thing this place offers is the ‘Culinary Cornerstones Training Program’ which allows volunteers to take part in classes for 12 weeks, that teaches them cooking and financial skills.
“We want to be the place that Kansas City restaurants call when they need good help in their kitchens. Everyone has a right to be nourished and sustained, and we’ll do that with both food and learning.” – Michael Curry
Reading this article put a smile on my face. It’s such a wonderful initiative and I wonder why no one has thought of it before! Soup kitchens have been around for years now, first emerging during the late 18th century. They rose in popularity during the Great Depression in the early 20th century. Since then, there have been many soup kitchens running to serve disadvantaged and homeless communities. It has always been a helpful and generous creation, and many have benefited from it. Kansas City Community Kitchen has taken something great, and made it even better!
What has usually looked like this:
Has been turned into this:
“[The homeless] are used to standing in line for food, for a bed — they stand in line to get in the door. See them smile today? This can change a man’s heart.” – Kenneth Cabean (Volunteer at the community kitchen)
This kind of initiative relates so well with our course on equity and diversity, and particularly next week’s topic on economic and social inequality. The goal of this is inclusion and equality for all. Why treat homeless individuals like “pitiful” homeless individuals? Why not treat them like members of our society, as deserving of respect and high quality service as the rest of us?
In our world, there is an unfortunately great divide between the rich and the poor. The system that creates this does so in a vicious cycle – as they say, “the rich get richer, and the poor stay poor”. While wealthy individuals are continuously given opportunities to succeed, poorer communities cannot afford such opportunities. Furthermore, homeless communities are often looked down upon.
However, if the poor are never treated like they are valuable members of society, how can they believe that they do matter — and that they can succeed? At the end of the day, it can all lead back to the self-fulfilling prophecy. This soup kitchen, while not ridding the problem of income inequality in the world, offers homeless communities with respect and ‘dignity’ — and this is a big step towards equality. This is the way change is created. You have to start small, and in incremental steps, great and real changes can happen.
Giving these kinds of equal benefits and opportunities is what needs to be done for disadvantaged and poor communities. For individuals who are often denied basic rights ranging from access to healthcare and education, to simply being treated with respect — this place is truly refreshing.
“It’s different. They’re treating me good, like they don’t know I’m homeless.” – Brian Oglesby, a homeless man who dined at Kansas City Community Kitchen
Maybe more soup kitchens – and perhaps other organizations – around the world can also follow in these footsteps. Let’s give everyone a chance to feel valued in our community! 🙂
Article link here!
Kansas Community Kitchen website here!