Monday, August 21, 2006

The problems of bigness

Over the last month or so at Street and Hospitality Team meetings we've been discussing the fact that some days there seem to be more people coming to Credo for lunch than we can really cope with.
The lunches started about twelve years ago, when the church invited some young people to move into the building and try to connect with the church's neighbours, particularly people who were part of the street culture. One of the first residents was a chef, so they started inviting people that they met in the street to come back to their place for meals. Through word of mouth, more and more people heard about it, and it got to the point where there were so many people coming over for meals that they couldn't all fit in the apartment. So the basement of the building was cleared out, and it became Credo Café.
Credo is supposed to be not just a place where people can not just get fed, but find hospitality, a community to support them and a place where they can feel at home.
These days we're cooking enough food for sixty people, four days a week. When there were less people coming to lunch most people who were at lunch would have known each other, and when someone new turned up it wouldn't have been difficult to make sure they were welcomed. However, these days there are so many people coming in that it's not really possible for everyone to know each other, and there are often quite a few people that no one from the Street and Hospitality Team knows. With so many people it's not possible for us to spend enough time with everyone to gain their trust. With lots of people in Credo, it also gets very crowded and noisy. Because of the lack of relationships, we've also been getting quite a few people complaining if they don't like the food, or if we've run out of cordial or coffee, which isn't something you'd do if you were just over at someone's place for lunch.
So the problem is that there are a lot of people who need food, and that we are the only people in the CBD who regualrly offer a free lunch. However, with so many people coming to lunch, we're not able to sustain community as well, or offer a safe, secure place for people who don't have their own homes.
One of the things we're doing is putting together a proposal to the city council to start a service that is able to feed lots of people reguarly.
We're also thinking about how we can develop a more meaningful connection between the food that is eaten in Credo and the people who eat it, so that the meals are better appreciated. One of the ideas we have is to try and grow our own vegetables, and to involve as many people who come to lunch as we can in that.


Trav said...

hmmmm yes i see how that would be a problem.

Anonymous said...

would some of the people who come for the meal be willing to help serve the other people???

Christop said...

Most of our volunteers actually are people who orignally came in because they needed some food. We try to get as many as we can of the people who come to lunch involved in preparing the food and cleaning up afterwards.