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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Travel Tuesdays: Soup Kitchen in Quebec City

Mixed vegetables and a roll
During our extended weekend business retreat in Quebec City, we placed on our agenda volunteering at a Soup Kitchen.  It was highly recommended by our accommodation host, and it was an experience like no other.   

The foods consisted of vegetable and beef soup, pasta and meat, vegetables and meat, mixed vegetables, and bread.  In addition, Rhonda oversaw desserts (danishes, cookies, and cakes), and Sharee oversaw beverages (tea or water).  Ironically, the hottest item of the evening was butter.  The Canadians tended to pile it on thick; hence, there was a person stationed next to the butter to ration the amount given.
Serving line

An initial barrier we thought would be the language.  However, bonjour (hello) and merci (thank you) were common phrases, and used 90% of the time by the more than 100 persons that came through the food line.  The other 10% of the time our interpreter, Charles, was very helpful and questions asked often were specific requests for a dessert or "un petit" or "a little" cup of tea. 

A key observation from the experience was that everyone had a smile on their face, and were very grateful for the meal.  They were able to stick around in the warm environment for up to 2 hours, and many took advantage of it considering the temperature was dropping quite rapidly as the evening progressed.  By the time we left it was in sub-zero degree conditions, and snow was beginning to fall anew.

A final thought of reflection came after our trip.  We met a lady in our local library that is currently living on the streets.  She has spent more than 40 years living on the streets on her own accord.  The last 30 years have been in our current city of Columbia, SC.  She gave us the real scoop of living on the streets, and despite her setbacks, she always found a way to eat or have a roof over head by being very knowledgeable about what services were available in the city.  Truth be told, many people are one paycheck from being homeless.  Another truth is that many of those classified as homeless DO work.  Cost of living has made it difficult to cover the basics of living-- a roof over their head and food for nourishment.

When you travel, have you taken the time to help those at need?  What places have you visited that tend to have a high rate of homelessness?


  1. Very true. When people travel, especially from the 'developed' countries, they tend to forget or even feel shy to help others, feeling out of place to do it, or whatever the reason. Those in need don't pay attention to our passport or language . . .

    1. Hi Nirankar. I hope all is well in Madrid, Spain. Yes you are right, they didn't even pay attention to our race, nationality, or limited use of French when we approached them with "Bonjour" and "Merci". They were thankful for a roof over their head out of the cold, if only briefly, and bellys being full. And we are all humans. If you are in a place in your life to help the homeless, it shouldn't matter where you go to (your own city/town, another state, or outside your country) to offer your assistance. Even if it is just a prayer over them from all hurt, harm, or danger while on the streets.