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6 Tips for Getting Involved at a Soup Kitchen - Make More Good

6 Tips for Getting Involved at a Soup Kitchen - Make More Good
From The Kitchn - November 8, 2017

There are many compelling reasons to decide to volunteer at a soup kitchen, but the bottom line is simple and sincere: You want to help. But what does it mean to be helpful in these circumstance? Sometimes that's a complicated question with an equally complicated set of answers.

Here are six things to keep in mind when volunteering at a soup kitchen.

If you arrive at the soup kitchen ready to work, ready to help, and ready to connect in a sincere way with the guests, then you will be fine and truly of service. Many soup kitchens are well-run operations, helmed by people who have been doing this for quite a while and are very used to dealing with volunteers. So first and foremost, you will likely be in good hands. Here are some additional details that are helpful to know before you show up.

1. Know that safety comes first.

There are a few health and safety precautions you should always take when volunteering at a soup kitchen. First, wear closed-toed shoes, preferably ones that are comfortable, as you will likely be on your feet a lot. Tie your hair back, wear a headscarf/bandana, or be prepared to wear a hairnet. Wash your hands before and after your shift and using the restroom. Be prepared to wear food-service gloves and to remove your rings (lest they fall into the food.) If you are allergic to latex, you may want to bring your own gloves. Most importantly, do not go if you are sick. Many clients are very vulnerable to germs and diseaseseven your little sniffles could have a big impact on them.

2. Remember you are not in charge.

Show up wanting to know how you can help. You may head up your own company or have decades of experience in professional kitchens, but this is not your operation to run. Helping out could mean many things, so be open. You may be tasked with opening boxes, sorting produce, organizing, washing, or cleaning besides actually serving and cooking. Be humble and do not try to run the show.

A friend of mine tells me it helps to have a "no task is beneath me" attitude. Also, as in any food service, clean up your station when you are done with your task. Wash your cutting board/knife, wipe down the counter, put any food scraps/skins/etc. in the compost or trash. Do not leave a mess for the next person.

3. Consider the many ways to give.

4. Go when you are really needed.

5. Leave your pity at the door.

6. Consider going with a friend.

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