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678 homeless people shrug off high winds at festive open-air lunch

The Hope Exchange and Ladles of Love made December 25 2023 a day to remember for 678 of Cape Town’s most needy residents, serving them a delicious Christmas lunch and sending them away with the gift of a chocolate bar each.

Around 25 volunteers – South Africans from around the country as well as foreign visitors – joined the tireless staff from Hope Exchange and Ladles of Love to treat their guests “as they would treat guests in their own homes”.

Yolanda Jones from Ladles of Love briefs volunteers

The Christmas lunch was a highlight of the #Feed5000 campaign, which ran from December 14 to January 15, with the aim of serving at least as many meals to those in need as they did the previous year: 12,000.

The Christmas guests, most of whom live on the street or in informal settlements, sat around festively decorated tables in the courtyard at the Hope Exchange in Roeland Street, a stone’s throw from Parliament.

Young and old enjoyed a hearty, tasty meal of roast chicken, salads and cake.

Cape Town’s blustery south-easter blew a gale all day. The occasional plate of food was overturned and unoccupied chairs were blown across the courtyard that had been set up as a dining area to seat 160 people at a time.

Some of us volunteers felt quite traumatised by the so-called Cape Doctor by the end of the day, but nothing could dampen the mood of gratitude and festivity among the guests, who are quite accustomed to coping with whatever Mother Nature throws at them.

“During this season many of us attend several gatherings marked by festivity and an abundance of food. Not so for the homeless. This is why #Feed5000 is imperative for us at The Hope Exchange. The midday meal we provide at this time is often the only food of the day for a homeless person.”

Peter Solomon, Director of the Hope Exchange

Introducing The Hope Exchange

The Hope Exchange is not primarily a feeding scheme. They offer other services to the homeless all year round with the primary aim of reintegrating them into society and reuniting them with their families. Services offered help people to recover from trauma, addiction and other crises, and provide support as they rebuild their lives.

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