Charity’s cross to table service

Crossroads John’s Kitchen volunteers Chris Grant and Raewyn Buchanan. Photo: Matt Brown.

Gingham tablecloths, hot tea and scones with jam and cream, all served to the table, are a welcome addition to a community kitchen’s vital work.

Crossroads’ John’s Kitchen has nixed lines, opting instead to provide service to sitting patrons after rethinking the way they served customers following the COVID-19 pandemic.

And they’re embracing the opportunity for change by streamlining their processes and providing a more “relaxed” atmosphere.

Crossroads kitchen manager Richard McDonald says moving to table service has made the area, especially around the kitchen, more spacious and convenient.

“We had a rethink over the shutdown about how we deliver our service to our customers,” he says.

“We thought about doing a silver service but most of us were born with a plastic spoon in our mouths,” he laughs.

“We’ve rejigged our roster so about 80 per cent of our volunteers are on table service.

“One or two teams of servers supported by one or two in the kitchen.”

He says the pandemic underlined the shortfalls in the structure of their processes.

“During COVID, there was a high demand for frozen meals,” he says. “All our regular homeless were housed within a week – thanks to Housing First – and everyone’s benefits went up.

“There was less demand on us than expected, but it was stressful.”

The kitchen was providing up to 100 frozen meals each week.

He says he spent a lot of time following up with vulnerable members of the community.

“We have a list of about 24 people that we would check up on once a week.

“Social workers were picking up meals for people that were getting stuck.”

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