with us






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, setting up the room, and serving a breakfast of pastries, coffee and fruit to our early arriving guests.


For our afternoon shift, duties include greeting guests, serving food, bussing tables, dishwashing, and cleaning up. (Please note this shift is suspended indefinitely).


When you arrive, you will be assigned a task to work alongside one of our many experienced volunteers 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 – The afternoon shift is closed indefinitely.

Volunteers can sign up to work the morning shift.


I am interested in volunteering. What do I do?


Please call 347-850-2230 or 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
  • Shift you are interested in working: morning, afternoon, or both
  • 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:


New York Cares



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.


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.

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