A Social Enterprise to Feed the Poor
No one likes begging and St. George’s church is no exception.
To help us to help ourselves, we are exploring ways of operating social enterprises which will allow us to make our own money and use that money to create a sustainable future.
One idea that we have been discussing is the development of a simple food-based operation to help extend our Mission in the community whilst at the same time allowing us to save for the things we want to achieve.
Ideas like this are ambitious but not exceptional. There is a multitude of similar working examples around the world.
We want to take you on a journey.
Imagine that you are in Thailand and walking down the street, you see a noodle soup restaurant.
It’s decked out to the same standard as any of the best cafe’s, restaurants or coffee houses in town.
The restaurant is open-air with fans to help move the air.
You are shown in by someone wearing a black apron and a big smile.
The environment is clean, fresh and inviting.
You sit down. You look at the menu.
There is a special board which advertises one-off dishes which are not always available since the Soup Kitchen does not always know what ingredients will be provided by its commercial partners.
The main fair is a basic bowl of tasty noodles.
Prices are fair, in that they are not cheaper than comparison street food outside or at the market.
You are shown the self-serve Lime-water station whilst you wait. In fact, there are two of three of these around the restaurant. You can have a cooling drink.
Your food and utensils are brought to you.
On the table is a pot where the bill or ‘bin’ will be placed. In the pot is a plastic voucher which patrons can present to the cashier if they cannot pay. This helps identify who is ‘in need’ and who is not.
The service we plan on developing will be built around a ‘noodle restaurant’ concept.
The restaurant will be appointed in a way that is very on-trend in terms of its design and decoration.
The restaurant will have a standard yet simple menu and all who pay for their meals will know that they have paid for an entire meal for a person who otherwise cannot afford one.
If someone can only contribute a part of the usual bill, that is fine too.
If someone has no money and cannot pay at all, then the volunteers, staff and management of the restaurant will rejoice that our purpose has been fulfilled. A hungry person has been fed.
With the COVID pandemic, huge numbers of people suffering from the effects of poverty became commonplace in Pattaya and elsewhere.
Emergency ad-hoc handouts of simple food parcels were generously provided to those who would otherwise starve.
St George’s understands that in light of the pandemic the visible effects of poverty and distress skyrocketed, and were brought into sharp relief for all to see; in reality, it has always been there.
Those living lives of subsistence, those making impossible choices in order to make money to feed themselves, and their families or to educate their children.
We want to create a permanent service that will feed those who are hungry today, end the cycle of poverty for tomorrow and work towards providing long-term solutions to the problems of those who will, without intervention, inevitably live as an underclass, long after the effects of the pandemic have passed.
The restaurant service is not only aimed at foreigners but Thai people who will undoubtedly make up the largest contingent of paying customers and people in need; however, we will make it clear that the people we intend on supporting will not just be Thais, but foreigners who find themselves in difficulty too. In short, anyone who walks in the door will be welcome.
How You Can Help
This service requires pump-priming investment to set it up and after it is established we have every reason to expect it will do well.
In the first instance, we will be conducting a feasibility study to produce a costed proposal which will form the basis of taking this forward.
Maybe you are a restaurant owner and you know the running costs off the top of your head.
Maybe you can help us find a perfect location for the operation?
If so we want to hear from you.
We are entirely aware that demand for this kind of service outstrips supply so we will need your help.
We will be relying on donations of two kinds:
- in kind
We will seek the support of commercial partners to help provide equipment, furniture, technical support and training and ingredients on a ‘fair share’ basis rather than have usable ingredients thrown away.
We will need people to help train others to:
- make food
- serve food
- clean dishes
- clean eating places between customers.
We want other service providers to join us to do assessments for people in need where they come to eat and to signpost and refer our customers where appropriate to other services which exist in the community.
The manager will be trained, qualified and experienced in the area of catering and customer care but will be readily on hand to help with the assessment of those who have no means; to meet their other basic needs.