Soup kitchen moves to GrandWest

Costa van Zyl, of Kraaifontein, preparing GrandWest's Sun Exhibit hall for the arrival of Ladles of Love. Picture: KAREN WATKINS
Ladles of Love will now use this venue at GrandWest. Video: KAREN WATKINS

A volunteer-run soup kitchen, which has been a lifeline for the needy during lockdown, is moving from the Cape Town International Convention Centre 2 to GrandWest, in Goodwood  

The non-profit Ladles of Love has grown overnight, from a soup kitchen, making 250 hot meals a day for the homeless at the Hope Exchange in Roeland Street, to serving 2.5 million meals since the start of lockdown. It has been working out of a 1 500m² CTICC 2 exhibition hall since Freedom Day, Monday April 27 but is now moving to GrandWest’s 2 600m² Sun Exhibit hall, after the CTICC’s three-month sponsorship ended.

However, Ladles of Love founder, restaurateur Danny Diliberto fears the move could disrupt the sandwich-making part of their operation. Already, he said, many of their volunteers had either returned to work under more relaxed lockdown restrictions or were in financial difficulty. 

Volunteer Samara Stern, of Bantry Bay, came up with the idea to make sandwiches for the homeless when she saw them wandering the empty city streets during the early part of the lockdown. People wanted to help, Ms Stern said, but had been unable to leave their homes to serve hot meals to the homeless. After running her sandwich idea past Ms Diliberto, Ms Stern put out a call for help on social media and word soon spread.

 “I remember that first Sunday after lockdown,” she said, “we collected 700 sandwiches. Since then, it’s taken on a life of its own. I have videos of families sitting together making sandwiches.”

From the Atlantic seaboard, the project spread and now has up to 50 collections a week with volunteers producing between 25 000 to 35 000 sandwiches a day. The sandwiches are a staple for many homeless people and they are more accessible and easier to deliver than groceries and meals.

According to Ms Stern’s mother, Hilary Stern, of Sea Point, the volunteers come from all walks of life. The aim is to reach 1.5 million sandwiches by Saturday July 18, Mandela Day and Ladles of Love’s fifth anniversary, with an accompanying drive for scarves, beanies, jackets and other winter clothing.

Mr Diliberto said Ladles of Love had produced 228 469 hot meals and breakfasts from the CTICC 2, but an Observatory events firm, Dish Food and Social, would now do that for the organisation. 

Ladles also supplies a growing network of charities and community organisations across the Cape Peninsula with produce and groceries. One of them is Serving Hands, in Athlone, which feeds the homeless in Parkwood, Manenberg and Kewtown. “It’s not just about the food; it’s about speaking to the people we feed,” said Serving Hands founder Insaaf Manuel.

GrandWest’s general manager, Mervyn Naidoo, said Ladles of Love was “answering an enormous need in communities”. He added: “We applaud them, as well as our many GrandWest staff members who have used their own funding to make up and deliver food to needy communities during lockdown.”

Premier Alan Winde said an extra field hospital could be set up at the CTICC 2, but no official decision had been taken yet.  

R150 will give someone a daily meal for a month. To volunteer, visit