Penrith Community Kitchen celebrates 20th anniversary

Volunteers at the Penrith Community Kitchen

It has been 20 years since the Penrith Community Kitchen became a registered charity.
Since then local volunteers have provided a safe place for hundreds of homeless and underprivileged individuals to come and have a hot meal and a chat.

One of the current coordinators at the Community Kitchen, Cathy Craig, has been volunteering with the project for the past 25 years, starting back when it was just a soup kitchen.

“My children had finished school and had moved on, so I decided to look for some volunteer work,” she said.

“I saw an ad in the local paper for volunteers in a local soup kitchen, so off I went.”

Ms Craig, who coordinates the kitchen three days each week, said the best memories over the years came from seeing people get their lives back on track.

“There was one gentleman who came in for about two and a half months and he came one day and gave me a fruit bowl as a way of trying to give back to the kitchen and I said ‘No please keep it’,” she said.

“Then about four or five months later he came back in again and thanked me for all we had done.

“They are the memories that you sort of think about the most, the people who found it so difficult to walk in and they’ve overcome their hardships and they’re just so grateful that they were able to get that help through their hard time.”

To mark the special anniversary, the Kitchen will be holding a morning tea next Wednesday, February 28, where they will celebrate the incredible efforts of the volunteers and Board members who have enabled the charity to continue operating for all those years.

Board member of the Kitchen and CEO of Penrith CBD Corporation, Gai Hawthorn said that it was an achievement that everyone should be proud of in the Penrith community given how much it relies on volunteers.

“It’s only a bunch of volunteers with a very small Board, so the fact they have continuously fed up to 800 people every day for 20 years, they should be amazed,” she said.

Lauren Suttie

Lauren Suttie is the Weekender’s General & Community News journalist.