Warm meals given to people in need in Switzerland

The Church donates food and hygiene items to a Catholic aid organization in Zurich

Every evening, more than 300 hot meals and other food are given to people in need in a neighborhood called Europaallee near the main train station in Zurich, Switzerland. 

The line of people waiting for their turn is long and diverse. When Jürg Ottiker — a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Switzerland who works with interfaith relations — saw the efforts, he spent some time volunteering and wrote about it for the Church’s Switzerland Newsroom.

Ottiker found out that a few years ago, a Catholic nun named Sister Ariane launched the nonprofit organization called Incontro in Zurich — a busy and affluent city — to help marginalized people with free food and other services. 

At the end of 2022, the Church donated funds for Incontro to be able to buy food and hygiene items. In mid-January of this year, some members of the Church delivered more than three tons of supplies to the organization.

Jürg Ottiker, left, Glenn Sattler and Rahel Sattler, all members of the Church, show the large number of groceries needed for the nonprofit organization Incontro to be able to feed those in need in Zurich, Switzerland, in January 2023. | Thomas Ottiker, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

On a cold winter day, wrote Ottiker, he stood with his wife to help a long line of people facing homelessness, addiction, poverty and other challenges. Refugees, young families with children, pensioners and others waited patiently for their turn for groceries.

After handing out groceries, hygiene supplies and personal care items, “we go to the alley with Sister Ariane and distribute warm meals there. The impression is quite special,” he said.

As soon as they stopped with the cart of supplies, people came out of different house entrances to receive boxed meals. 

“Here and there is a short conversation, a hug, a comforting handshake, but at least a ‘thank you from the bottom of my heart,’” Ottiker said.

After the food was handed out, the equipment was cleaned and restocked to be ready to use the following day. The work requires around 10 volunteers each evening and they end up standing for four to five hours at a time, said Ottiker.

The experience changed Ottiker. “I will not soon forget these faces, these eyes and they penetrate deeply,” he said. 

Relief supplies are unloaded near the main train station in Zurich, Switzerland, in January 2023 in order to feed those in need. | Thomas Ottiker, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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