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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Kos & Wyn | Food & Wine > Kennisgewings | Notices

Iconic Cape Town Feeding Charity Turns 75: The Service Dining Rooms


2010-04-21

Would You Like To Attend (At Your Convenience) A Light Lunch For 5 Cents At The Service Dining Rooms?

I’m helping some friends with much needed publicity, even if it’s a soupçon, for a great “culinary” cause: a feeding charity called The Service Dining Rooms in Cape Town.

This venue could make for an unusual approach to an off-beat “restaurant review”. Or perhaps a quirky Gonzo type story with a compassionate peek into the underbelly of poor people’s eating habits in our city, such as those often run by New York Magazine.

It does not have to be clichéd, patronising or cheap voyeurism, but, there are so many starving people in a city that boasts some of the world’s best restaurants, that a place like The Service Dining Rooms deserve a little recognition.

In July, The Service Dining Rooms turn 75-years-old. Moreover, after all these years, they have witnessed the number of meals catered increase from 200 per day to 1 200 per day (and the price of a meal still stands at 5 cents!).

A three-quarters of a century later, they are housed in the same, old-fashioned facebrick building in 82 Canterbury Street in Cape Town. The profile of the “clientele” range from destitute refugees, to local homeless people and various charities. 

There are tables and chairs to sit and enjoy your meal. Not only do they serve food from their premises, but it’s also collected and distributed throughout the Cape Flats, informal settlements, Woodstock and surrounds, old age homes, crèches, and so forth.

The meals served consist of, inter alia: bread, soup, meat, fish and spicy soya served with rice or samp, fruit in season, cake, products nearing expiry dates and tea.

Meat and soya are on the menu twice a week and fish once a week. There are fruit and cake when available. Meals are served daily Mondays to Fridays from 11.30pm till 12.30pm.

Therefore, next time, when you enjoy a succulent roast chicken with lemongrass risotto, a bouillabaisse, sprinkled with costly saffron, or a stunning cheese soufflé…give The Service Dining Rooms a thought. Because, who knows, should (heaven forbid) the fragile world economy take a plunge again, there for the grace of God, go you…and you…and I. 

Bon Appétit!

A Short History:

In 1935 a beggar stopped Miss Dorothy Syfret in the streets of Cape Town and asked for a tickey (2 ½ cents) for a drink.

Dorothy, the daughter of one of the city’s leading financiers, told the beggar that she would rather give a tickey for a meal.

In July 1935 Dorothy founded The Service Dining Rooms and its function became to provide a “substantial and nourishing (mid-day) tickey meal to the poor”. It has been going successfully ever since then.  

Some Titbits:

·            Irvin & Johnson Trawling supply fish once or twice a week depending on catches.

·            Lately they are battling to get fish because the fleet has been reduced from 17 boats to five boats and there is talk that this sponsorship may cease.

·            The other sponsor is Tongaat Hulett who has cut their monthly donation of sugar in half and at present they are receiving 2 x 25 kg sugar per month.

·            Meat supplied is from Asian Kitchen.

For more information and to set up a lunch, contact:

Des Billings on Tel: 021 465 2390