When I inherited a large sum of money from a distant relative, I knew I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy the riches. I wanted to give back to my community, who had helped my family and I so much throughout the years. It was a lofty goal, but I decided I would open a soup kitchen in my neighborhood.
You don’t need to come into money to do something like this. All it takes is an idea, and the support of your community! If you, or others in your area, are inspired to do the same here are some steps to get you started.:
- Set up a non-profit. You will need to contact your State Registration office to get incorporated as a non-profit. Once then necessary forms are filled out, you will also need to contact the IRS for forms to become exempt from income taxes.
- Pick a place. You will want to pick a building that is in a high need area. Many buildings here will be available at a low price to buy or rent. Using grants, donations, and other funds – procure the building. You can also contact local organizations to see if they have a space you can use or rent.
- Find funding. You can host an event to raise funds, solicit friends and family for funds, or contact local news agencies and local businesses to get the word out about your endeavor. You may be surprised at how much a community can really come together to support a good, local cause!
- Get equipment. You will need to buy or lease kitchen equipment if you will be cooking from scratch. Check out restaurant equipment suppliers, such as Culinary Depot, or ask local restaurants for any older equipment they have that is no longer in use. You can also buy equipment from school cafeterias and restaurants that are upgrading or no longer in business.
- Help. Do not be afraid to ask for help! You will not be able to do this alone! Contact grocery stores and restaurants in your area to see if any are willing to donate unused or excess food. You will also need to find volunteers for your soup kitchen. Ask friends, family, or any of the new contacts you have made at restaurants and grocery stores if they are willing to volunteer a few hours a day.
Starting a soup kitchen doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor – and really shouldn’t be! Get the community involved from the start, and you will find the process much easier than trying to do it alone!