Danielle Tott

Director, Siouxland Soup Kitchen

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on finding a safe way to reopen The Soup Kitchen for dine in meals. I frequently find myself grasping for words to adequately describe just how much the dynamic has changed here at the kitchen and in our community. I used to serve roughly 75 people a night. Now I am serving 130 to 180 people. Three years ago, I saw 12 kids a week, if it was a busy week. Now I see 40 or more children daily. There is also an abundance of senior citizens utilizing the program that did not before. I am striving to find an inclusive way to continue to serve all these people with the doors open. I am also working to expand Erik’s closet, the free clothing, and toiletries program that I started two years ago. I am trying to include more things such as children’s clothes, household items, medicine, first aid, and more.

What is your vision for the future?

My vision for the future of Siouxland is a more supportive social service system for the homeless and poverty-stricken individuals in our area. I believe that poverty is a direct result of a failing education system. I would like to see programs in the schools as early as elementary teaching our kids age appropriate financial lessons. As a single mother who spent years working 2 and 3 jobs to keep a roof over my children’s heads, I understand all too well that in low income households, parents are often too busy working to survive, and important lessons that should be learned at home often aren’t. I would like to be a part of instituting classes that teach basic financial and life skills in our schools.

What are you doing to make this happen?

The Kitchen is currently in a transition phase. We will be moving onto the Warming Shelter property and there are hopes that Erik’s Closet will be a standalone program, with its own building and volunteers. Once these goals happen, I plan to reach out to local high schools and possibly boys and girls’ programs to mentor kids who may not have the opportunity to gain management experience. The road to being a Chef is not one well led by school. It is all about hands-on learning and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with some of the underprivileged youth in this area. As well as teaching the value of service to your community and fellow humans. 

How can people help you make that happen?

The community is crucial to everything I do, every single day. The things most important to my goals are donations and volunteers. Financial contributions will help with our goal to move, build, and expand. Once ground is broken, we will be looking for volunteers to help with all forms of construction and moving. Another goal is to eventually serve two meals a day, which require double the volunteers I currently work with. Most importantly, it is the little things that add up to success for this program. Twenty-dollar donations, a case of water, leftover food from a funeral, that is what keeps us running. The Soup Kitchen has a Facebook page. Every like helps. It extends our social media reach and allows a follower to stay in tune with exactly what we are doing almost daily. I also post lists of needs including volunteers, food items, and more.

What quote or saying inspires you?

“I like flaws and am most comfortable around those who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” – Augusten Burroughs

Volunteer Organizations

Erik’s Closet – Founder

Homeless – Advocate

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