Caritas action – soup bus: More and more pensioners are queuing up

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For 33 years, people in need have been able to count on the soup bus every day. More and more retirees are lining up. The “Krone” accompanied the campaign in Vienna for an evening.

The kitchen of the Caritas headquarters in Ottakring is busy on a Friday evening. Josef, the coordinator of the Canisibus, had to fill in as cook because two volunteers fell ill.

Cooking usually starts at 2pm, but the cancellation has pushed everything back in time. Now it’s time to hurry, because the soup has to be served at the first station at 7:45 p.m. sharp. Punctuality is important, people wait and rely on us, says Josef. The soup bus has been running daily since 1990. Only once, on the day after the terror night (November 2, 2020), did it not go out.

Depends on food donations
Handing out up to 400 servings of soup every day means a lot of work behind the scenes. On the one hand, volunteers are needed to cook, drive the bus and serve soup. There are currently 140 volunteers employed.

And then you have to find the ingredients. Most of the groceries come from Wiener Tafel and LE+O and Ströck donates the bread. If the donations are not enough, Caritas has to buy extra groceries. “We cook whatever is available at the moment, but we always need large quantities of something because everyone should get the same thing,” says Josef.

First of all, all vegetables must be cut into small pieces, a vegetable cutter is indispensable for this amount. Josef receives support from Gabor. Usually he is a driver, but today he helps in the kitchen. When asked if he always likes volunteering, he says: “Not always, when Josef called today I wasn’t enthusiastic. But at the latest when I give someone a soup in their hand, I know it’s worth it.” He often sees familiar faces when the soup is handed out, but the price increases mean that new ones are also added.

Three times as many retirees as 15 years ago
There are also more and more minimums. 15 years ago they made up seven percent, today it is 22. “Many people do not see their plight, they are often ashamed and get a soup as inconspicuously as possible,” reports volunteer helper Erdem. For a few months now, soups have also been filled in pots that people can take with them.

Longest queue at Meidling train station
The hotspots have shifted over the years. The Praterstern used to be the busiest place. “There were often so many people that we couldn’t keep up with the shoveling,” says Josef. And time is often short, the bus is only 15 minutes from a station. Meidling railway station is currently the busiest.

There is unusually little going on at the exit on Friday. “Maybe it’s because it’s so cold. Then more people go to the emergency shelter and get something to eat there,” says Caritas. But Rudi is also there today.

“I come here every day, the soup is my only meal,” says the pensioner. He is lucky enough to live in an apartment, but he does not have enough money for more, even though he has been working for 45 years. “For me, the Canisibus means survival,” he says gratefully. He refuses a second plate, although there would be enough.

Source: Krone

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