Soup kitchen hands out free lunches on Galway streetsOctober 9, 2012 - 7:00am
By Denise McNamara
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch but for bemused shoppers in the centre of Galway the opposite was the case yesterday.
Volunteers from the soup kitchen Twist were handing out up to 600 portions of pasta on Shop Street which had been donated by the organisers of the Galway Bay half marathon.
The pre-packed lunch bowls were being offered to anybody who needed them for free, explained the man behind Twist, Oliver Williams.
“The food was left over from the marathon and rather than waste them we decided to send down five or six volunteers with a wheelie shopping trolley full to the top with pasta,” he said.
“I thought they’d find it hard to give the food away but it was unbelievable, they came back again in a couple of hours. The reaction was very, very positive.”
The Athenry man opened up the soup kitchen in June after experiencing a lull in his own career as a pilot. He keeps himself ticking over with income from a repairs garage.
It was a venture he had always wanted to pursue after he had visited a soup kitchen himself at 15 during a difficult spell in London.
Twist serves up a hot dinner to over 70 people a day on Queen Street in the docks.
The initiative has proved so popular that he plans to open a second kitchen in Athlone this month.
“We are averaging between 80 and 100 dinners a day. Most of the people are experiencing short term problems with money and accommodation. They might have missed a payment or lost a job but social welfare doesn’t step in.
“Around 20% of our clients are regulars who come every day. The main age group is 18 to 35. There are now older people who have come to rely on Twist and that’s where I get my pleasure.”
The operation is entirely run by volunteers and is funded by public donations. The meat is donated by Athenry butcher Michael Walsh, fruit and veg comes from supply company Claddagh Minerals while the artisan bakery Foods of Athenry provides the bread.
“We have three in the kitchen and two on the streets fundraising every day. Costs are rising, we have a major rates issue. We started off with an old horrible shed and have evolved into something really special,” he explained.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.