White Heron Sangha


People's Kitchen


White Heron Sangha Volunteers Feed the Hungry

by Wendy Liepman and Don Shealy


"To provide A Hot Meal Everyday To Whoever Wants it And Offer it With Justice and Love"

The mission of the People’s Kitchen of San Luis Obispo is to feed the hungry in our community, not just the homeless. For more than 20 years the People’s Kitchen has been providing a hot noon meal to anyone who is hungry. More than 30,000 meals are served each year.  The success of the People’s Kitchen has been due to the volunteer efforts of many individuals and organizations. The People’s Kitchen does not receive local, state, or federal money. All meals are provided through volunteer efforts. (see more about the People's Kitchen)

White Heron Sangha members join with volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship one Sunday per month in preparing and serving lunch at 40Prado, formerly Prado Day Center. As a Sangha following the Buddha's teachings on compassion, we have a chance to practice and make a difference locally.

Here are some of the practical details:

Food.  The coordinator decides on how many of the trays/dishes should be made to feed approximately 90 to 110 people. This includes basic categories of starches, veggies, protein, bread, fruit, milk (on rare occasions juice). The coordinator makes sure that there are enough people bringing trays/dishes of each category. Because some of us have been doing this for a long time (sometimes years), we typically are already signed up to bring our favorite dish (for instance, I regularly prepare mac and cheese). The coordinator will confer with new participants to decide on an appropriate offering. Wendy Liepman is currently the coordinator for White Heron Sangha volunteers. 

Scheduling.  The coordinator sends an email about 1 to 2 weeks ahead of time to all those who are participating, asking who will be available for the upcoming meal and who will be willing to serve the food.

Normally, we need about nine people. Six of these will serve, one will act as backup to the serving crew to keep them supplied with trays of food as they run out (standing behind the serving crew), one will clean the pans as they are emptied, and one will fill/serve cups with water/milk.

Timing.  Most of us volunteers arrive around 11:30 - 11:45 am. We start serving at 12 noon and continue for about 45 minutes, depending on how many people show up. We have usually cleaned up the area and are out by 1:00 - 1:15 pm. 

Volunteering.  If you volunteer for feeding the homeless at Prado, you are only volunteering as you are available, not for a set-in-stone, every month obligation. Volunteers make up a "pool" of people who are called upon monthly to find enough to make up a crew for that date. It's ok to decline to participate whenever you need to. The goal is to have a sufficient pool to meet the ongoing need of feeding the homeless monthly.

Presently, to maintain the safety of clients and volunteers, while we are providing food, there is no serving being done by any volunteer group. All dishes should be in disposable containers as we will have no one there to return/retrieve items after the meal. 

If you are interested in participating, please contact Wendy Liepman at wliepman@yahoo.com.

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