How to Start a Soup Kitchen

Soup kitchens provide a much-needed service to the homeless, the hungry, and low-income families in each community. Starting a soup kitchen in your neighborhood is one way to make sure none of your neighbors or their children go hungry tonight or any other night.

Starting a Soup Kitchen in Nine Steps:

1. Get a place - Religious institutions—mosques, churches, synagogues, temples, etc.—civic centers and community centers are ideal places to have soup kitchens because they usually hold a lot of people and are centrally located and easy to find. A soup kitchen that reaches the most people should be located where low-income and homeless people can reach easily.
2. Get groceries for the soup kitchen - One thing a successful soup kitchen can never buy enough of is food—but where do you get it for affordable prices? This is where the community really has to pitch in. Ask local businesses, restaurants and grocery stores to donate food or give your soup kitchen a discount. People like to help out good causes.
3. Get the right foods
4. Get donations - This is where the community needs to pitch in. Ask neighbors, friends, family, schools, local businesses and organizations to donate excess food or be a sponsor for your soup kitchen. Every little bit helps.
5. Get community volunteers - Get neighbors and local groups to help by asking them to volunteer at the soup kitchen. Lots of people are hungry, so there’s no such thing as too many volunteers.
6. Get incorporated as a nonprofit - Each state has a Charity Registration Office—contact the office in your state and start the paperwork to become a nonprofit agency. This way, your soup kitchen will be eligible for grants and other federal funding. Also, your soup kitchen can be exempt from paying federal income tax (contact the IRS for more details).
7. Get grants - Once you’ve got the soup kitchen established, start writing your grant proposal. There are all kinds of grants and funding available from different foundations, state and federal governments for nonprofits.
8. Get the word out - Send a press release to the local papers, radio and television stations, run an ad or article in a community or local school newsletter, and announce your soup kitchen’s presence in the neighborhood. Inform everyone of the need for the soup kitchen; create public awareness. This will help get donations for your soup kitchen.
9. Get collaborating - There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Other local organizations and nonprofit agencies probably help the homeless, too. Contact the directors of these agencies and ask if they would be interested in helping you establish your soup kitchen.