Sunday, December 4, 2016

"You don't feel homeless here."

As reported in The Christian Science Monitor and other media, anybody can get a free midday meal Monday through Friday at the Kansas City Community Kitchen (KCCK) in Missouri. Most of the diners are homeless, and expect to wait in line for a hot bowl of whatever. But at KCCK, they are met at the door by a host and shown to a table. A waitress takes their order, and it's brought to their table. When they leave, a busboy clears their dishes. "They're treating me good," said one diner, "like they don't know I'm homeless. It's different."

"You don't feel homeless here," says another diner. "The food is healthy. The people really care. They don't stigmatize you." KCCK has been around since the 1980s, and run by Episcopal Community Services since 2005. But it wasn't until last year that it embraced the "dining with dignity" restaurant-style approach. Varied and healthy menus using less sugar and salt are created by executive chef Michael Curry, who once ate at soup kitchens himself and now owns a Kansas City restaurant. And KCCK does more than feed the homeless. Dozens of volunteers are needed, and many come from area high schools and middle schools. They learn work skills, and how to interact respectfully with the homeless. "Everyone has a right to be nourished and sustained, and we'll do that with both food and learning," says chef Curry.

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