Food for the body is not enough.
There must be food for the soul.
The Cathedral Kitchen is one of many outreach programs of St. James Cathedral. The Kitchen opens it doors five days a week to provide a nourishing, hot meal to those in need in our First Hill and Downtown Seattle neighborhoods. The Cathedral Kitchen serves anyone in need, regardless of age, gender, or creed.
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learn about a new ministry, the Cathedral Kitchen Garden
A Day in the Life at the Cathedral Kitchen
The day begins at 8:30am each weekday. Two “gleaners” (fifteen of them during the week) drive around Seattle collecting produce, deli meats, and dairy from various grocery stores—PCC, Madison Market, and QFC—for the four-course meals that are prepared and served to 150 guests five days a week, all year round, including all holidays except Christmas Day.
Twelve to sixteen volunteers arrive during the afternoon. Our volunteers include Cathedral parishioners, students from Seattle University as well as Catholic and public high school students, neighbors, and local business professionals.
The long tables are beautifully set each day, and the guests are served with loving care. Each day a different chef prepares a fresh and nutritious menu based on that day’s gleanings. The guests start lining up outside at 3:00pm. All take their places in the Hall at 3:45pm and dinner is served at 4:15pm. For guests who cannot be accommodated at dinner, sack lunches are provided.
During the meals, other services are provided, including ESL tutoring, health and wellness checks, and referrals to local social agencies. More volunteers help with cleanup, and the day ends around 6:30pm.
A Brief History of the Kitchen
The Cathedral Kitchen began life as the Family Kitchen on February 24, 1975. Nine people came to Cathedral Hall to taste Catholic Worker food and warm hospitality that Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin envisioned when they founded the Catholic Worker movement in 1933. That crowd of nine on Day One has become an average crowd of 150 more than three decades later. The Family Kitchen has been able to remain a welcoming, safe, non-judgmental place In May of 2007, the Catholic Worker group made the decision to step back from operating the Family Kitchen, and St. James Cathedral took the kitchen on as one of its own ministries, hiring two full-time staff to operate the kitchen and coordinate volunteers. Today, the Cathedral Kitchen serves all in need, regardless of age, gender, or creed.
Partnering with the Community
The Cathedral Kitchen depends on many hands and resources—more than 150 volunteers, as well as long-standing partnerships with St. Mary’s Food Bank, Operation Nightwatch, Union Gospel Mission, and Northwest Harvest. We also receive regular donations from individuals—Our Lady of Fatima Parish regularly donates clean containers for leftovers and new white towels; Our Lady of the Lake Parish has a team who bake homemade cookies for sack lunches; a friend from St. Anne’s Parish donates laundry soap as well as chips and crackers.
Cathedral Kitchen Statistics
Total meals served:
Hot meals served daily 150
Sack lunches distributed daily 40
Meals served in a week 950
Meals served in a year 49,400
All this is made possible thanks to the generous support of St. James Cathedral parishioners as well as spontaneous gifts from people across our city. While the majority of the food is donated and prepared by volunteers, the staff and the facilities require funding. It adds up—
Look at it this way:
Serve one guest for a month $75
Keep the kitchen open one day $665
Keep the kitchen open a week $3,325
What Can I Do to Help?
For more information or to volunteer, contact Teddi Callahan at 206-264-2091. Volunteers are especially needed to help with cleanup. "Gleaners" and good cooks are also needed. Donations of food are also welcome.