31 May 2012
Every month, Josie phones the band of ‘chefs’, who deliver a home-cooked main or vegetable dish or dessert to St Patrick’s Parish hall in Palmerston North.
The regular team prepares soups to eat with the bread which Breadworks and Melodys donate.
Mid-afternoon on first Mondays the hall is opened and a large pot of potatoes set to simmer on the stove.
Tables and chairs are set up with guests helping as they arrive.
After a blessing on the food, the queue inches towards the serving table for their helping. Always more guests turn up than have rung and booked. Have we ever run out of food? ‘Never!’ say those who have been running the cafe night for the past 18 years.
One December, the cafe night attracted more than 90 diners.
Some guests live alone, others have a disability. Some come as a family and some for the company. All appreciate the delicious and nourishing food, and those who have prepared it. It seems that nourishment of spirit is part of the night as well.
As soon as the first course is served, the sinks at either end of the kitchen are filled with hot water, and rubber-gloved dishwashers, dryers, plate and cutlery collectors and put-awayers move into action. The dishes flow from one sink to another and then another, are wiped and stacked. Some helpers serve courses two and three, and second and even third helpings, and the dishes continue to flow.
By about 7.15, crockery and cutlery are back in the cupboard, tables and chairs are away, the hall floor swept, and the kitchen floor mopped.
‘Are we making a difference to those who have less than us?’ we ask. ‘Is this social justice? We are not 100 percent sure, but we keep doing it.