Soup Kitchen Disguised as a Restaurant Helps Those in Need Dine With Dignity

At the Kansas City Community Kitchen, visitors are seated by a greeter, and waitstaff are there to go over the daily specials
Kansas Soup Kitchen Disguised as a Restaurant Helps Those in Need Dine With Dignity

A typical ‘soup kitchen’ lunch: Filet of swai with smoked paprika and porcini mushroom powder, golden pilaf, healthy cheesy cauliflower, and fresh fruit.

Kansas City Community Kitchen is a soup kitchen that provides meals for people in need — but rather than the standard drab cafeteria layout, this community center is organized like a restaurant.

Launched by Kansas City, Missouri’s Episcopal Community Services (ECS), the kitchen was created with a focus on dining with dignity, a rather revolutionary concept that allows those who are homeless or struggling to make ends meet feel more comfortable taking advantage of community programs.

A visit to the Kansas City Community Kitchen even starts with a greeter who seats visitors at their tables.  The kitchen’s waitstaff, all volunteers, take orders from a daily menu with a few options. The kitchen is open Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and all are welcome to eat for free.

One recent lunch, created by executive chef Michael Curry, consisted of spice-rubbed roast chicken, loaded mashed potatoes, sautéed peas, and local greens salad with young zucchini and sweet red onion.

A day earlier, the kitchen served Salisbury steak with wild mushroom-balsamic gravy, steamed broccoli, roasted potatoes with a special in-house rub, and fresh fruit. Two weeks before that, Curry served filet of swai with smoked paprika and porcini mushroom powder, golden rice pilaf, cheesy cauliflower, and fresh fruit.

“We are trying to flip the photo of what a soup kitchen looks like,” ECS director of community engagement told Upworthy.

In addition to the daily operations of the kitchen, ECS also operates a six-month culinary training program where students work their way to cooking in the kitchen and contributing menu ideas. The program, which offers a path to the restaurant industry that doesn’t require a culinary degree, helps students gain the skills they need to continue working in hospitality. 

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