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St. Francis Soup Kitchen
St. Francis Catholic Kitchen is the only facility in the City of Santa Cruz that offers a nutritious, hot lunch for the homeless & hungry every weekday — as well as clean used clothing, toilets & showers — all at no cost. Soup kitchen volunteers strive to show each guest the merciful face of God. A kind welcome and a safe space are available to anyone suffering from hunger, chronic poverty, substance abuse, mental illness or physical disability.
St. Francis Catholic Kitchen has been serving the hungry in Santa Cruz for over 40 years.
Each week day noon, a hearty lunch is served to around 150 people. Food preparation, set-up, serving, and clean-up tasks are all done by community volunteers. Working under the daily direction of Mr. Richard Crowe, Soup Kitchen Program Director, all head chefs, sous chefs, and day leaders are volunteers, too.
Who is invited to lunch at the soup kitchen?
All are welcome, regardless of race, creed, color or gender. St. Francis Catholic Kitchen considers those who partake to be special guests.
When are meals served?
There is a sack lunch served year round, every Monday through Friday, from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM.
What’s on the menu?
A different kind of hot soup is featured each day of the week. Besides a large bowl of nutritious, hot soup–loaded with meat and fresh vegetables or with legumes and vegetables — there is a bowl of green salad with dressing, a serving of fresh fruit, bread & butter, and milk. When available, a slice of pizza or a cake, pie or ice cream dessert will be served, too.
Four times per year, the dining hall is colorfully decorated for the season. At Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter, multi-course traditional holiday feasts are prepared. These special meals serve more than 275 people and are always shared with staff and residents of Jesus Mary Joseph Home.
What other services are available?
- Hot showers are available 11:00 am to 12:45 pm, Monday through Friday.
- Clothing Boutique, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Volunteers. At the soup kitchen, we aim to treat every guest with compassion, dignity, and respect. Volunteers quickly learn and are well aware that being homeless or on the streets is a serious challenge. When volunteering to serve the needy, smiles, calm voices, good manners, and kind words go a long way. Many volunteers have been with St. Francis for several years, or in some cases, for decades. The St. Francis mission would be impossible to carry out without these dedicated volunteers. A crew of 15 is needed at the soup kitchen for every meal.
Soup Kitchen Program Director
Office Phone: (831) 459-6712
Mon – Fri, 8am – 2pm
The soup kitchen continues to exist because of generous donors and the kind volunteers that come to help out. Food preparation begins around 8:30 in the morning. The day chef directs volunteers to chop vegetables for the soup and salads.
As the tables are set, volunteers decorate the tables with flowers. At 11:00 the volunteers get together to have lunch and taste the offerings for the day. If you are interested, there are many ways you can help.
Every weekday, volunteers are needed for:
- Preparing soups, salads, extra sides & desserts
- Waiting on guests who need assistance at table
- Ladling soups
- Pouring water & milk
- Serving salads, desserts, extras, bread & butter
- Busing & wiping tables
- Mopping up spills
- Collecting washable bowls, glasses & spoons
- Washing & drying dishes
- Cleaning & sweeping the dining room
- Hosting guests in the clothing room
- Monitoring guest safety in the courtyard
Outreaches to the Soup Kitchen
- Applied Survey Research / Annual homeless point-in-time census
- Santa Cruz County Public Health / Vaccinations & public health education
- Santa Cruz Police Department / Volunteer workdays
- Santa Cruz SPCA / Pet owner information, leashes & collars
- Second Harvest Food Bank: SNAP & CalFresh / Enrollments, individual level of nutrition assessments & nutrition education
- Veterans Services / Veterans Administration & other groups offering housing & services
- Warming Center Program / Cold weather sheltering, blankets & storage options
Hearty Soup Recipe at the Soup Kitchen
Based on what has been donated or purchased, the chef decides what kind of nutritious soup to make. He or she is pleased when extra beef or chicken or fish have been donated by a generous local eatery. When there is no meat, there are fresh cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages, bell peppers, mushrooms or potatoes. And there are canned beans, dry noodles or pearl barley.
Chefs take pride in making a hearty soup taste good, starting the soup with chicken stock or canned tomatoes or tomato sauce. Because both color and flavor matter, some paprika, garlic, chili powder, cumin, or sometimes curry are added.
Then, working in a ratio of 2:1:1, the chef chops fresh onions, carrots & celery. This culinary trio forms the mirepoix, sautéed with butter and savory herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, and/or parsley. When lightly browned, the mirepoix joins the liquid. After all ingredients have been added to the pot, the chef gently simmers the soup to perfection until served at noon.