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Food & Hunger

Check out this soup kitchen that is making things a whole lot fancier

Episcopal Community

Walk in.

Wait in a line.

Grab a tray.

Take the food being served.

Sit down.

Eat.

This routine is all too common for anyone who regularly attends a traditional soup kitchen. Kansas City Community Kitchen in Missouri is mixing it up and serving “guests” in a new way--restaurant-style.

The soup kitchen has served the community for 30 years, providing meals to those who cannot afford food or are in need of shelter. On Feb. 5, 2016, the longstanding soup kitchen re-opened with a new restaurant-style to allow the clients - now known as guests - the chance to dine with dignity.

A life without a home and with the frequent feeling of hunger is a reality faced by too many people throughout the world. For a family of 4 living in the US, the federal poverty level lies at $24,300 USD. Those below this threshold get caught in the vicious cycle of poverty, which eliminates the opportunity to make choices. Without this opportunity, people are placed on a lower social level in the community. Even at a soup kitchen, a place meant to serve those in need, a person’s human dignity can get overlooked.

Fed up with the common routine, the kitchen in Kansas City is utilizing the restaurant-style approach to spice things up. The approach includes waiters, greeters, and some personal conversation--ingredients that make for a perfect recipe of respect and dignity.

Take a look where the magic happens, improvements to the building were made in November 2015.  

Those looking for a refreshing meal experience can look forward to this new routine:

Walk in.

Be greeted by a host.

Sit at a table with a menu.

Make a choice from the variety of food options.

Be delivered food by a waiter/waitress.

Eat freshly prepared meal.

Talk with volunteers.

Kansas Community Kitchen takes a unique perspective on lending an extra hand to those in need by following a motto that puts dignity before differences.

The kitchen’s mission statement proves that they are a community looking to “engage the Episcopal and broader communities, both in feeding the hungry, and in empowering the poor to move beyond the barriers of poverty with dignity through education and job training.”

This motto is followed by all volunteers and even the kitchen’s very own executive chef, Michael Curry. Michael may be the owner of the Kansas City restaurant, Lil' Bubba, but he knows his way around the soup kitchen, for he previously lived in poverty.

The executive chef is a revolutionary community leader looking to restore dignity by giving everyone the opportunity to make choices. He has also been working to make healthy and flavorful recipes available for those on a low budget with his cookbook geared towards recipients of the US food stamp program, SNAP.

The Kansas Community Kitchen operates under Episcopal Community Services and serves a community of individuals from all different walks of life. They welcome guests and volunteers to take action and find a place in the movement to do something good for the community.

Those who volunteer at the kitchen can also participate in the Culinary Cornerstones Training Program, that teaches cooking and financial skills to those interested in the culinary industry. Many who participate are unemployed or underemployed and deal with barriers that keep them from learning a business and or life skill like cooking and finances. In addition to classes, the kitchen also tries to place students in restaurant apprenticeships in the community that have the possibility of turning into job placements.

“We want to be the place that Kansas City restaurants call when they need good help in their kitchens,” Chef Curry said. “Everyone has a right to be nourished and sustained, and we’ll do that with both food and learning.”

The Kansas City Community Kitchen shows that to uphold human dignity sometimes requires a genuine smile, a passionate heart, and the opportunity to make choices.