Ladles of Love serves 30 000 meals a week

Danny with Thandie Matikinca, Provincial Site Coordinator for Hope World Wide, Africa

Ladles of Love (Ladles) started as a single soup kitchen in 2014 by Daniele (Danny) Diliberto. Today, it has rapidly extended its reach and, during the lockdown, provides food for numerous feeding schemes all over the Cape.

Danny explains, “It started on the basis of the ancient Sanskrit word seva, meaning ‘giving of yourself and wanting nothing in return.’ And when I learnt of that word back then, I was on a meditation course and it very much resonated with me. Long story short, our seva that day was to go out and make and serve the homeless a cup of tea. I decided to arrange a pot of soup because my restaurant at the time was around the corner from where I was doing this course and it just all clicked for me. The learning of the word seva, how easy it was to cook a pot of soup; I had the staff, I had the kitchen space and I thought, let me just start, and I never looked back.”

Before the onset of the pandemic, Ladles had four kitchens around Cape Town serving soup to homeless people. Additionally, it partnered with four schools and with four other feeding schemes and supplied them with food parcels so that they could continue to feed needy children and keep their own soup kitchens running.

Once the lockdown came into force, however, everything changed. Since Ladles’ soup kitchens are almost entirely volunteer based, they had to be shut down. The enormity of the loss of support for the homeless during the lockdown drove Danny to find new solutions. Thus, Ladles of Love began working with The Haven Night Shelter to distribute food. Individuals staying at the shelter help to serve food to others and, in this way, Ladles can use the Haven’s support system to reach more people. Additionally, Danny’s organisation began serving lunch every day at the Safe Space Shelter, which is situated under the Culemborg Bridge.

But Danny wanted to do more.

He says, “I knew once that was sorted that we had to get food out into the communities and locations around the city, so we have now partnered with about 18 other organisations. This week we’ll pump out about 4.5 tons of food amongst those 18, consisting of food parcels that are taken back and cooked in their kitchens and serve to their communities.” These organisations are located in various areas including Mitchells Plain, Manenberg, Lavender Hill, Vrygrond, Khayelitsha, Delft, Wesbank, Blikkiesdorp, Tafelsig and Bonteheuwel.

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Each food parcel contains a mix of vegetables, mainly potatoes, carrots, butternut and onions; maize meal; rice; a mix of pulses such as lentils, soup mix and beans; oats and Maltabella with salt and sugar. A single organisation might collect about 240 kg of ingredients at a time, and this happens twice a week.

As if all these ventures weren’t enough, Ladles is also working with Constantia Can, which is supplying cooked food to 1000 children every day in Khayelitsha. Recently, Ladles also started its own sandwich drive and called on households to make and donate sandwiches. Danny says that the project has exploded. He notes, “Today [22 April] alone, our entire network collected 24 000 sandwiches, so it’s just insane what’s happened with this sandwich drive. So, this is what’s happened now, we’ve grown tenfold in the last three weeks.”

At the beginning of the lockdown, Danny had one volunteer helping him to prepare soup but there are now 12 who are either cooking, maintaining stock supplies or monitoring deliveries and collections.

Danny’s main concern are the vast numbers of hungry children requiring food on a day to day basis. He says, “What’s frightening is how many children are queuing up for food. I can tell you there’s thousands and thousands of kids.”
Currently, Ladles of Love is providing around 30 000 meals per week for individuals across the Cape through its food parcel and sandwich initiatives. Ladles will continue supporting these 18 organisations for as long as it can. “I can tell you these organisations won’t have the support after the lockdown either, so we need to constantly pump in this kind of quantity for the next I don’t know how many months. It’s going to cost millions. But I’ve never seen communities come together like this. Our sandwich drive is just an example of how people want to help. The number of donations we’re getting, it’s unbelievable that people are doing that during this time. I need the public to know that we are very grateful for their support and we’re just blown away by how people have come together during this time. We really appreciate it.”

To learn more about Ladles of Love, visit or find them on Facebook.

By Jaime Uranovsky

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