44 Volunteers provided 59,000 hot lunches, served Monday through Friday, frequently
exceeding 215 meals per day.
Free Lunch - Monday - Friday, 11am - 1pm
Every weekday in the early a.m. volunteers start arriving in the kitchen to begin preparing the noon meal. This process is made easier because we receive a large quantity of prepared food from The Manor kitchen that is left over from their regular meal service, enough food to provide two or three daily meals. Also helpful is the frequent delivery of pizza, juices, milk products and bakery goods from Ray’s Foods, The Gleaners, Taco Bell, Starbucks, and Safeway, plus fresh produce and vegetables during the summer from local farmers, Access and fruit producers in the valley. Because of this generosity, we need to buy fewer groceries and prepare fewer meals from scratch.
Morning preparations involve eight to ten volunteers laying out the main dish and ensuring enough supporting items are ready; bread is buttered, desserts are laid out on trays, plus containers of coffee, juice, ice water, and milk are filled. Salads are created and pizza laid out for warming two or three days a week. We serve a very filling meal yet strive to not overdo it resulting in food getting thrown away. Spices are used sparingly because many of our diners have very sensitive stomachs due to a lifestyle that has caused considerable internal problems. The same lifestyle has often wreaked havoc on our diner’s teeth, so things like sliced carrots in salads or a juicy red apple can be a problem.
While we serve from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., we open the doors early, particularly on days when the weather is more severe. Many of our folks have no opportunity to eat breakfast so a warm cup of coffee and a day-old sweet roll is a great treat. On a typical day we serve about 200 people although we serve significantly fewer early in the month, and somewhat more late in the month, when all their funds, such as disability, have run out.
Shortly before closing volunteers begin to clean the kitchen and dining room. This can easily take another fifteen to thirty minutes. The objective is to thoroughly clean all food preparation and serving areas and to ensure all food products are properly stored. When this is conscientiously done, it makes life so much easier for the next shift. With a totally different crew each day, it’s hard to get everybody conditioned as to where items are stored and some days we need to have several treasure hunts to locate everything needed.
Ultimately, it is nothing short of a small miracle that we function so well. Just imagine five different groups using the same kitchen each day of the week, not seeing or talking with each other on a regular basis and still being able to provide food for over 200 people daily.
Thank You to all those volunteers who make the noon meals a pleasant service to our poor and hungry.