with us



Because everyone deserves fresh, delicious food

University Community Social Services is staffed entirely by volunteers.

There would be no soup kitchen without you!


What do volunteers do?

For the morning shift, duties include helping to prepare the meal, filling the Grab 'n Go bags, and serving a full to-go breakfast to our morning guests. At this time, we offer only Grab 'n Go service for all breakfast guests.


For our afternoon shift, we have parallel services: 1. with limited indoor dining where duties include greeting guests, serving food, bussing tables, and 2. a simultaneous service of Grab 'n Go for lunch guests who wish to remain outdoors.  All volunteers participate in the clean-up of pots, pans and cooking utensils, as well as of the dining hall space after all the guests have been eaten their lunch and exited.


When you arrive, you will be assigned to work with one of our experienced volunteer team leaders who will provide directions and answer any questions.




Cardinal Spellman Center

137 East 2nd Street

Between First Avenue and Avenue A

New York, NY




Every Saturday

  • Morning shift – 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 am
  • Afternoon shift – 11:30 am to 3:30 pm (includes clean-up).


I am interested in volunteering. What do I do?


PLEASE NOTE: Effective as of  Saturday, September 18, 2021 all volunteers must show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 upon their arrival at The Meatloaf Kitchen.  Masks are optional effective July 9, 2022.


Please email our Volunteer Coordinator so that we can schedule a time for you to volunteer.


It is important for us to maintain the proper level of staffing each week so that both our guests and our volunteers receive the best experience possible.


Please provide the following information when you contact us:

  • Date(s) you are interested in volunteering with us.
  • Shift you are interested in working: morning, afternoon, or both shifts.
  • Number of people in your group.
  • Group affiliation (if any)
  • Email and phone contact information



Another way to get involved is to sign up through the New York Cares link below:


 If you have worked with us a few times, and you would like to commit to volunteering on a regular basis, please speak with one of our managers about joining one of our special teams of cooks, meatloaf and salad makers, outreach workers, and greeters.


Anything I need to know before volunteering? 


No special skills are required for volunteering except for the ability to take direction, work hard, and be kind and respectful to our guests and fellow volunteers. 


When is the best time of year to volunteer? 


We need volunteers throughout the year, but it is generally harder for us to get volunteers during summer holiday weekends (Memorial Day, 4th July and Labor day weekend).



There are some general rules to keep in mind:


  • Volunteers should be prepared for manual labor, so wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and clothes appropriate for serving meals in a restaurant setting. No tank tops, please. All volunteers must cover their hair as mandated by the NYC Health Department, so consider wearing a baseball cap or other head cover. If not, a hair net will be provided to you.
  • Personal belongings can be stored in a locked closet but, to be safe, it is best to leave valuables at home. 
  • Minimum age for volunteering is 15 and all minors must be accompanied by an adult. 
  • To protect the privacy of our guests, we do not allow volunteers to photograph or interview our guests. 
  • We do not permit volunteers to proselytize their religion or give or sell things to our guests. 
  • We give school credit for community work but are not able to give credit for court-mandated community service.
Meatloaf Kitchen Facebook Page
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University Community Social Services (d/b/a The Meatloaf Kitchen) is a U.S. registered 501 (c) (3) tax exempt emergency food and social service non-profit organization. 2017.


Photo Credit: Kenneth Jackson 2015, Joseph Montano 2015.