Good Times Diner cooks for a cause

While many of us prep for Tumble and Throwback, a group of Queen’s students spend their Tuesday and Thursday evenings running a soup kitchen.

Good Times Diner is a fully student-run soup kitchen that operates out of St. Paul's Anglican Church twice a week from 4-7 p.m. The group provides less fortunate members of the Kingston community with delicious hot meals like tacos, shepherd’s pie, beef stroganoff and chili.

Good Times Diner co-director Christina Di Cosola, ArtSci ’15, explained to the Journal how the group operates and what makes the volunteer experience so worthwhile.

What’s a typical day like at the soup kitchen?

There are two shifts available for volunteers to sign up for each Tuesday and Thursday. The first shift is from 4 - 5:30 p.m., and the second is from 5:30 - 7 p.m. Every Tuesday and Thursday, executive members go to Food Basics around 3:30 p.m. to pick up all the ingredients for the meal of the night. At 4 p.m., the first shift of volunteers arrives to prepare and serve the meal. At 5:30 p.m., the second shift arrives and completes all of the clean-up.

What are the meals typically like?

We have two menu coordinators who organize all of the meals, taking into consideration requests from volunteers and soup kitchen patrons. Each meal includes meat, a carb and a dessert. Pictures of our meals are posted on our Instagram “queensgtd” every Tuesday and Thursday.

Who are the people that Good Times Diner provides meals for?

We typically serve low-income members of the Kingston community, but meals are available for anyone who is in need. Good Times Diner has a “no questions asked” policy. We have had anywhere from 20-70 people come in on a night, and we have a lot of recurring patrons who come to the Diner for the sense of community that it offers.

How is Good Times Diner able to cover the expenses of the free meals served?

Through a variety of grants, AMS funding and fundraisers, we are able to cover the operational fees. We often run clothing drives and soup can drives as fundraisers.

Why did you decide to get involved with Good Times Diner?

I have been involved with the club for three years. When I was in the second year of my undergrad, I wanted to reach out and get involved in the Queen’s community. One of my friends was on the executive team, so I volunteered with her and I loved it. The following year, I applied to be a grant coordinator executive and the worked my way up to co-director. I really enjoy the sense of community and meeting new people.

What is one of your most memorable moments volunteering with Good Times Diner?

I don’t think that I can pinpoint one moment, but every Tuesday and Thursday after the meals, there are patrons who come in and say “thank you”. It’s knowing that you made a difference for someone that feels so great and makes the whole experience worthwhile. I’ll never forget the day that the patrons gave us a standing ovation. That was amazing.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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