I first got to know of Pit Stop Community Cafe from Sean’s blog.
That was back in April 2016 when the cafe first started and I remembered it since because of its ambitious objectives – social enterprise, to feed the homeless and poor, to offer paying meals as a cafe, to offer suspended meals, to be a one stop centre for goods made by the urban poor and sell them commercially, to provide training and eventually job placements to the needy, to offer counselling as well as to serve as a coordination base for NGOs that work in social services to collaborate with each other.
There were so much planned that I felt my head reeling when I read his post.
Nonetheless my interest was piqued and an urge to visit persisted ever since. However the locations isn’t particularly an area that I frequent and over the months I eventually “got too busy“.
I was reminded again by a recent popular video going around on FB.
With enthusiastic encouragement from Adi, another good friend, I finally found myself making my way to Pit Stop Community Cafe to experience first hand of the cause.
I think Passion Portraits did an awesome piece on Joycelyn Lee (founder) so do take a look if you’re keen to read her personal message.
I’ve yet to meet this dynamic, big-hearted lady though I’ve been introduced to Andrea, her co-founder briefly.
The concept, story and objective:
Pit Stop Community Cafe is a social enterprise working towards solutions for current urban issues such as homelessness, urban poverty and hunger.
It is a hub for anyone willing to volunteer their resources; be it time, skills or financial.
Every evening from 5:30 pm onwards the cafe feeds almost 200 people from homeless to the poor and lost. These “street friends” (as they call them) are allowed to pay ANY amount they can afford; and yes, that meant as low as 5 cents if they wish.
However, after a brief interview with one of the core team volunteers, I found out that those who paid are approximately 10% of the daily numbers, with 90% being fed for free.
Commercial cafe: To raise funds
Pit Stop Community Cafe had became so synonymous with “soup kitchen” that not many people are aware that the cafe runs a lunch service to raise revenue, catering to the office crowd in the area.
My objective for this article isn’t a food review so I’ll spare you my honest thoughts about the food.
Please find the menu below for your reference.
Pit Stop Special (RM7.50) :
Sambal Udang Kering Rice (RM12) :
Jocelyn Lee and her co-founder Andrea Tan rents this 3 storey shop lot for this cause.
Staffing: All are volunteers
Pit Stop Community Cafe welcomes people from all races, religions and ages.
As long as you’re able and willing, you will find yourself at the service line dishing out the meals.
Cleaning and setting up is part of the deal too.
But of course, contribution in financial resources are accepted as well.
Volunteers however, are forbidden to cook the meals.
That task is carried out by a capable core team dedicated to the kitchen. This ensure consistency, safety, cleanliness and quality control of the food and drinks served.
The core operations team who run the cafe are volunteers themselves. They handle the grocery shopping, food preparation and serving of food from 5.30 pm to 11.00 pm, six days a week (CLOSE on Tuesday).
HOW IT WORKS:
At 5.30pm sharp, the shutters rolled up and the crowd started making their way in an orderly manner and proceed to receive their meal.
Food is in big blue pots. The fare differs little, and the standard fare is porridge, oats, stew and some sweet soups such as bubur chacha (sweet potato dessert), red bean or mung bean as well as hard-boiled eggs and bread.
Each of the volunteers was briefed in advance and tasked to handle one food item.
Each street friend will be handed a plastic bowl and spoon and move towards the line to select their food; porridge or bean soup or bread, etc.
They are allowed as many refills as they wish, but once they leave the line, they will have to finish their food and queue again. Refills are given using the same spoon and bowl and if they lose or threw away their bowls, they will be charged RM1.50 for another set.
Many sat either in the cafe or by the five-foot way after receiving their food.
I stood observing the scene for about an hour.
The crowd comprises of various races and are both male and female. Generally they are the elderly, homeless and poor. However I saw middle-aged, able-bodied workers in the queue as well.
Pit Stop Cafe feeds all.
MENU: The food
The standard fare each day is rice porridge, vegetable/meat stew, sweet red bean soup, green bean soup, eggs, water, bread.
Pit Stop Cafe accepts funding from private and corporate contributors.
Every time you eat in their cafe (during lunch hour), you help fund their operations.
You can also contribute to the cause by buying suspended meals.
Current on-going activities as of Jan 2017:
The team has engaged a trained counsellor to help those dealing with depression, stress or suicidal tendencies.
Other skills programmes here for the street friends include culinary, hair styling/cut and language classes.
All these are in hopes that it would help to place and support a few/or many homeless people in jobs.
I did ask about the success rate of these programmes but the volunteer I spoke to wasn’t able to provide exact numbers.
Anyhow, it is understandable that such efforts take time.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1. Offer financial assistance or food
2. Buy suspended meals.
That means when you buy yourself a meal there you can also pay for a meal or two for someone who will use it on another day.
3. Be a volunteer.
4. Be a paying customer.
You can either have your lunch here (pay price as per menu) or even share the evening meal (pay any amount you wish).
5. Donate items – food or everyday necessities.
OR even kitchen equipment or furniture!
Please contact Pit Stop Community Cafe if you think you would like to help.
The Pit Stop Cafe KL is also home to Guerrilla Gardeners Kuala Lumpur and #projecttikar.
To find out exactly how you can do so, please contact them directly –> https://www.facebook.com/pitstopcafekl/
LOCATION and DETAILS:
Address: 101, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur (WAZE to Bangkok Bank).
Nearest car park : Pasar Seni. Parking is a challenge here.
Nearest LRT: Pasar Seni.