Feeding the Soul this Mandela Day image

Feeding the Soul this Mandela Day

Eight years ago, Danny Diliberto attended a course that would change the trajectory of both his life and those of thousands of Capetonians - for good. 

The course was presented by the Art of Living Foundation, where he was introduced to an ancient Sanskrit word sevā - selfless service performed without any expectation of recognition, reciprocation, or reward. 

The next event that would prove pivotal on Danny’s journey was an encounter with a homeless man in Cape Town’s Long Street. Through the seemingly simple act of serving him a bowl of soup, Danny realised the potential to restore a human being’s dignity through food - and his vision to start a soup kitchen was born. 

Hailing from a Mediterranean home, Danny is used to interacting with food as the centre of the family and home. Add to this a background in the restaurant industry, and he has come to appreciate the need to serve freshly prepared, flavourful food from his soup kitchen. 

“I believe in serving good food - food that I would serve to my mother,” he shares. 

One year after Danny opened his first soup kitchen, the food relief organisation Ladles of Love was born. 

Driven by Danny’s calling to serve, Ladles of Love aims to “feed the souls” of both volunteers and recipients. 

One soup kitchen soon became four, and in 2015, the organisation started connecting with other NPOs and schools offering feeding schemes throughout the city, providing all the food supplies they needed to do so.

But it was during the first lockdown of 2020 that Danny and his team really experienced a powerful pivot. After the first shockwaves of COVID started reverberating throughout the world, they decided to make it their mission to “get as much food out to as many people as possible.”

And South Africa was behind them. After a single Facebook live post, the funding started flooding in - and Ladles of Love suddenly became a supporter of no fewer than 138 soup kitchens around the Cape Peninsula. 

Working from the Cape Town International Convention Centre and Grand West, they were pumping out 250 000 meals / 50 tons of food a week, doing more than their part to help carry South Africa through the crisis. 

Today, Ladles of Love continues to offer an invaluable service to hungry Capetonians, sending out approximately 200 000 meals / 40 tons of food a week (including vegetables, maize meal, samp, oats, sugar, salt, rice, and other staples). 

What’s more, they have expanded to offer a number of subsidiary programmes. Realise a Dream is their enterprise development programme, which hosts an annual competition searching for food entrepreneurs and agripreneurs who need support to sustain and expand their enterprises. Through the Nourish Our Children initiative, they aim to provide as many children with the right food to help them become the leaders of tomorrow through nutritious food. Their Fill-a-Pot initiative allows members of the public to sponsor bulk supplies for 170 soup kitchens throughout the Cape Peninsula and Gauteng. They make approximately 4 000 sandwiches a week through their Sandwich Drive, and their Love Bear Campaign allows individuals to sponsor a teddy bear and two meals a day for a month for a child for just R150. Last but certainly not least, Danny and his team believe in “handing up, not handing out”, and their Feed the Soil programme is an urban farming initiative to help farmers grow better produce. 

This Mandela Day, the Ladles of Love team is inviting people to join them in their attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest food can mosaic of Nelson Mandela's portrait, which they’ll be creating at the Cape Town Convention Centre on 18 July.  They’re inviting YOU to volunteer your 67 minutes to join on the day with food cans, and to help them make sandwiches, peel and chop vegetables, or knit squares for blankets.

The concept of seva is a cornerstone of Leeu Collection Founder Analjit Singh’s faith and way of life, and it is an honour and a joy for us to be able to support Ladles of Love in all that they do through monthly financial contributions. 

Visit the Ladles of Love website to find out how you, too, can help to restore health and dignity through good food.