In times of need the Compassion Soup Kitchen rises to the challenge

30 March 2020

It’s been 118 years since the Compassion Soup Kitchen began providing daily meals for Wellington’s disadvantaged – and as they did during the 1918 flu pandemic, they’re doing it again.

Image of team at the Compassion Soup Kitchen preparing food packages

During alert level 4 Covid-19 lockdown, the charity’s staff and volunteers have risen to the challenge, and will need local support to continue providing meals for its whānau. 

“The whānau got the message that we care about them,” says Compassion Soup Kitchen Manager Gary Sutton. 

“We are now making 150 meals a day, up from 70 last week, and we are providing for women’s and men’s night shelters as well.” 

Under the alert level 4 Ministry of Health guidelines, the Compassion Soup Kitchen is one of the few food facilities to remain open as it has been deemed an essential service to provide kai for Wellington’s most vulnerable people. 

However, meals can no longer be served in their communal dining facility. The Compassion Soup Kitchen has adapted their food distribution and whānau can now stop by the soup kitchen and pick up a bag of prepared food from outside the facility. 

Wellington City Council provided a marquee so people can pick up their food bag one-by-one from a covered outdoor area. The Compassion Soup Kitchen team has strict hygiene and health and safety procedures in place to ensure the protection of all communities, including the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Community Well-being portfolio lead, Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, says these are remarkable people, doing remarkable things, during a remarkable time.

“History shows that when the going gets tough, the tough get going – and the team at the Soup Kitchen are proving they are the salt of the earth right now.”

Mayor Andy Foster says: “We’re staying home and staying in our bubbles in order to keep ourselves and all our fellow New Zealanders safe – particularly our most vulnerable and our elderly. But there are many volunteers out there making sure our vulnerable also have food and shelter.” 

The Compassion Soup Kitchen will supply meals as long as they can. Yet the need is growing every day. At the same time, food charity organisations across Wellington have reported a notable uptake in need over the last few weeks. 

“Many emergency food service organisations are experiencing a greater demand for their services as more families struggle to make ends meet,” says Brittany Rymer, Resilience Advisor from Wellington City Council’s Community Services team. 

“Organisations like Compassion have had to work super hard and get creative to keep delivering their emergency food services, as many of their typical food supply lines like surplus stock from grocery stores, cafes and farmers markets, have become unavailable. Right now they need public support.” 

Gary Sutton expects there to be more demand as the lockdown continues, and says it’s important to stay open.

“Today I received a call from Tony, who is being housed in emergency housing. He said, ‘Thanks so much for the food you guys are producing every day. I haven’t had good food like that in a very long time’.” 

How Wellingtonians can help – Donate!

Because of restrictions in place at alert level 4 Covid-19, financial donations are the best way to help others in need.

Financial donations to Compassion Soup Kitchen is the best way to help others in need. You can donate online via bank transfer at: 

https://compassion.org.nz/support-us/donate/

or online banking BNZ 02-0500-0017474-00

Wellington City Mission: https://wellingtoncitymission.org.nz/want-to-help/donate/

Kaibosh: https://www.kaibosh.org.nz/donatefunds/

Kiwi Community Assistance: https://www.kca.org.nz/help-us/donate-funds

Compassion Soup Kitchen Background

The Compassion Soup Kitchen was started in 1901 by Mother Suzanne Aubert from New Zealand’s only founded religious congregation The Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion.

The Soup Kitchen was one of many initiatives that Suzanne Aubert and the Sisters began in the city. Its mission, to create a centre of welcome for disadvantaged people in need of a nourishing meal.

From its early roots of serving soup to unemployed men in 1901, through to responding to the influenza pandemic of 1918 and other needs throughout the century, the Compassion Soup Kitchen, as it’s now known, is a beloved institution and a source of food security to Wellington’s homeless people.

It is reliant on the goodness of volunteers and donations. 

For more information:

soupkitchen.org.nz 

During Alert Level 4, Compassion Soup Kitchen is serving one takeaway meal a day seven days a week from 1:30 pm to 2:30pm.