We were recently visited at the end of August by learners from Herschel School. Nearly 30 girls participated in our work in 2 groups over 2 days, helping with preparation, serving and interacting with our clients.
We really appreciated having help with our work but even more, it is wonderful to see how clients respond to the interest shown in them and their lives. The girls engaged our clients in conversations about how they lived and survived on the streets. They learned about the variety of clients that use the Service Dining Rooms, from construction workers to strollers to those who’ve lived their whole lives on the margins of the city.
Few of our clients get to have conversations like this and there was a palpable change in the atmosphere of the dining room over the two days. So often our clients are viewed with fear and contempt so to have sincere interest shown in them is a special gift.
Part of the conversations the girls had with clients, was an informal questionnaire asking for feedback on the quality of the meals and any suggested improvements. We glad to report that overall the feedback was quite positive. There was a wide variety of responses in terms of favourite and least favourite meals with no one meal commonly disliked, so we know that we are catering to a wide variety of tastes.
A problem voiced by many clients is the roughness in the queues waiting for lunch. One way we’ve addressed this is to have separate queues for women and men, but it’s still an ongoing project to make queuing more orderly and controlled. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Almost everyone appreciates the fish which we get from I&J twice a week. This is a wonderful offering we are able to make. We collect fish from the docks, straight off the boats, so our clients are eating fish that’s fresher than anything you can get in the supermarket!
Another favourite is chicken, or “eagle” as it called by many clients. We are supplied by Chef Pons Asian Kitchen in Gardens twice a week with chicken off cuts.
Many thanks to the girls from Herschel for being with us and for pitching in so enthusiastically. We and our clients really appreciated it.