A Safe and Friendly Place to Have Lunch
Before I started working at the Damiano Center as an AmeriCorps VISTA, I volunteered in the Community Kitchen a few times with an organization at UMD. It was always a fun experience even though I was terrible at doing anything with food. Since March of 1982, the Damiano Center has been dedicated to providing food for those who need it. Currently, it’s the largest on-site meal program in Northeastern Minnesota, serving 13 meals every week. In fact, last year the Damiano served over 116,000 meals! Of course, the Damiano Center isn’t the only meal provider in Duluth. We work in conjunction with other organizations such as the Salvation Army, to ensure the times we serve meals are spread out and don’t overlap. By doing this, we increase the range of times that people have access to food.
Flora, our lead cook, showing off some cooked chicken with a volunteer.
I think one cool thing about eating in the Community Kitchen is that there are no questions asked of the people who come in. Whether you can’t afford to buy food or simply want to have a hot meal ready for you, everyone is welcome to eat at the Damiano without judgment. And if you’re not satisfied after your first or second tray of food, go up and get another one! Additionally, guests that come in can take home day-old bakery items from Cub that we set on shelves for them (we are in need of volunteers to deliver the bakery, please contact Kyra if you are interested).
Volunteers helping make salad before the lunchtime rush!
Whenever I can, I like to eat lunch in the Community Kitchen and it’s always a great experience. You walk up to the line and immediately you’re greeted by volunteers who helped prepare the delicious food. As you go down the line, they kindly ask “Would you like some salad? How about some dressing? Do you want a roll?” And after that you can get some water or a hot cup of coffee. It’s a lively environment, especially if Richard is working!
In the past, numbers of guests coming in for lunch fluctuate throughout the year. This year, however, the numbers have been high since August. It’s unfortunate that this trend is fitting. With the very little amount of affordable housing in Duluth, there are more people who are homeless than ever before and the number continues to rise. Organizations like the Damiano Center and countless others are dedicated to supporting those who need a helping hand.
As the end of the year is in the horizon, it’s important to remember that hunger does not take a holiday. The Damiano Center will be open for breakfast from 8:30 am to 9:30 am and lunch from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve! Check out our holiday schedule for all our programs. With this weather, we like to remind people that winter clothing, including coats, boots, and accessories are always in need by our guests. If you have any spare winter clothing, please consider bringing it to the Damiano Center!