Stretching What’s on the Plate: How to Start Soup Kitchens

The issue of hunger goes beyond lack of food and nutrition. People who live below the poverty line may not have enough to cover their basic needs. It is an experience that affects one’s humanity, self-confidence, and trust in society. While it shatters adults, it is even more disheartening to see children going hungry in your community. Even if we are too busy with our lives, there is something we can do to save them from going hungry for a day.

Starting a soup kitchen is an ideal that many individuals think of, but it is harder to create a community food outreach. If you are dead set on starting and operating such a venture, here the steps to get your soup kitchen going.

Start the Paperwork

It is easy if you have decided on a location where you will start your outreach. Now you have to register your establishment with the state as a non-profit organization. Registering will ensure that all the processes are legal and your organization will be exempted from federal tax. Check the requirements for registration as it may vary from one state to another. Likewise, these requirements also differ according to the details of the organization. Keep in mind that although you are exempted from paying dues, your organization should still maintain proper and accurate documentation.

Find Funding

There are plenty of potential resources that you can tap when you start a legitimate soup kitchen. You can find funding from public, private, and corporate organizations. Approach your local church and present to them the needs that you see in the community and how a soup kitchen will benefit them. You may also apply for a government or corporate grant to help keep your program running. Look up grant applications online and start crafting your grant proposal.

Determine Your Location

Once you have decided on a region, look for a facility you can use in the area. Connect with community organizations or churches to see if they have a facility you can use or rent. Ensure that the place you will use has ample space for storing food donations that you will receive from your sponsors. Familiarize yourself with the area, community, and partner organizations that can help you in feeding the poor. It may also be possible to collaborate with an existing outreach to serve more beneficiaries.


Get a word out about your organization. You must continue to inform people of fundraising events, productivity, accomplishment, and organizational changes. Utilize local papers, television, and radio stations. But you can also consider multi-media resources such as blogs, social media sites, and online magazines. Other less obvious but equally useful tools are high school and college publications, local charities, and your own website, of course!

Acquire Food Donations

Operating a soup kitchen involves collecting food donations, preparing, cooking, and serving. It is no easy task, and you will need volunteers even for one day of feeding. Ideally, you can apply to receive support from a local food bank. You can find some of them through online sources. Approach grocery stores and restaurants to see if they have excess food or those nearing expiry to donate for your cause. You may also start a food drive to collect ingredients for your next outreach.

Find Volunteers

Volunteers are essential in soup kitchens. There are many ways for volunteers to help you in the operation of your outreach. They can pick up the food, prepare, serve, fundraise, communicate, connect with sponsors and do various administrative tasks.

two cauldrons of soup

Continue to Serve with a Smile

In the operation of your soup kitchen, you will one day feel tired and weary. Surround yourself with people and organizations that share a passion for serving others. Choose joyful workers and those who understand the validity of your efforts. Keep in mind that you will be serving people who have almost nothing. Help them regain their dignity by making them feel that they matter, and some people are willing to help them bounce back from their situation. Your soup kitchen will not only nourish and feed their body, but it will also rejuvenate their mind and spirit.

Starting such a selfless endeavor is a challenging task. You want to help badly, but you will face many tasks and issues in the beginning. But once you have accomplished the requirements, you will see the amazing effect it has on the people you serve and the community. Numerous times, these programs have helped save people’s lives from hunger and frustration.

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