Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Service Dining Rooms.


My morning routine has taken a new turn since I bought a juice extractor last week (it is, by the by, the coolest thing since The Hype Machine). I run around the reservoir and then I stop off at Fruit&Veg City in Roeland Street for fresh fruit. Across from their parking lot is a nice old red brick building. I've always looked at the queues of people forming there from mid-morning onwards and wondered about what exactly goes on there. Yesterday I waited for the rush to subside and went back with my notebook...

This is the skinny: 
In 1935, a well-heeled young lady by the name of Dorothy Syfret was approached by a beggar who asked her for a tickey to buy a drink. She replied that she would rather give him a tickey for a meal. Not being one to dilly dally, Miss Syfret enlisted the help of her father, one of the city's leading financiers, and founded The Service Dining Rooms, their function being to provide “a substantial and nourishing midday meal to the poor, for one tickey”.  75 years later, they are still in the same building, but from their starting point of 200 meals a day, they now provide 1200! Not only are sitdown meals served here, meals are also collected and distributed throughout the Cape Flats, informal settlements, old age homes, crèches...
Alternating on the daily menu: bread, soup, meat, fish and spicy soya served with rice or samp, fruit in season, cake and tea. Lunch is served five days a week, Mondays to Fridays from 11h30 till 13h00.
Sponsors include I&J (fish), Tongaat Hulett (50kg of sugar/month) and The Asian Kitchen (meat). Any donations are most welcome.

A hot meal for 5c. 
It's about dignity. Being able to pay for your meal, not begging for it.


The Service Dining Rooms.
82 Canterbury Street. 021 465 2390

7 comments:

Marie said...

Good gracious.

Marijke said...

Amazing history and service. Thanks for sharing.

Lily Turner said...

My Pleasure.

tanja said...

Just goes to show. One should not be a dilly dally.
x

Collette said...

Hi Lily, It is so bizarre to see this story. My father worked at this place, he passed away exactly two weeks ago & I chose today to go to your blog & find this story. This is a sad but beautiful moment :)

Lily Turner said...

I'm glad it meant something to you, Collette. I think what they're doing is absolutely incredible.

arcadia said...

Ek het daardie gebou al gesien! Hoe fascinating. En 'n pragtige storie.