Taking It Up a Notch

A few Saturdays ago, I was finishing icons in the barn while listening to the great line up of NPR programs: Car Talk, You Bet Your Garden, A Chef’s Table and Fresh Air. There was nothing significant on Car Talk, but the other three shows really were packed with thought provoking perspectives on food. Dave Lieberman and Anahad O’Connor, authors of The 10 Things You Need to Eat, were among the interviewees. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, was referenced.

I acquired Food Rules and 10 Things and began my education on nutrition. One weekend, I made three recipes from 10 Things: one with avocados, one with spinach and one with beets. I started feeling better almost right away.

The following Thursday night, several of the men whom we serve told me that our food is the best that is served at any of the sites on any night of the week. A normal person might just take this as an affirmation that he is doing the right thing and continue in the same manner; but my mom didn’t raise me to be normal. I tend to be suspicious of praise and begin to analyze.

If our food is the best, it had better be truly sound and healthy nutrition. We cannot just fill in a gap in the week; the meal ought to be truly beneficial. Better nutrition is not just for our household, but for our brothers and sisters on the street. This responsibility hits even harder, if we are going to take on another night in the week: Tuesdays.

So, it’s time to take it up a notch or two. This may mean that our cost per meal served may exceed $1.92. But it doesn’t need to break the bank, either. The Golden Rule tells us that we need to care for their nutritional needs in the same way that we would have our nutritional needs cared for.

It’s a process or a journey. I’m not talking about becoming a health nut or strict vegetarian or trying to impose strange, unappetizing foods on homeless people. There are simple things that we can do. We can use more whole grains; substitute quinoa or amaranth for some of the rice in the soup. We can use more fresh vegetables and add more greens.

I will share some of my suggestions in this newsletter and we are happy to hear yours in reply.

2 Replies to “Taking It Up a Notch”

  1. I try to keep our meals under $1.50/serving, and we eat pretty well. Honestly, mostly a lot of soups, but we’ve got full bellies and it’s healthy fair, and almost completely organic. Next time I run into you, we should trade notes. (I’ve never worked for a food kitchen, so I do not know what cooking on that scale entails, but I imagine converting soups to be a pretty easy thing.)

  2. $1.92 is the average cost per meal served. This includes disposable or hopefully compostable cups, plates & utensils. We are not serving children, but adult men, most of whom this is their only meal of the day. So this includes something for them to eat later; perhaps the following morning.
    We are not portion controlling except that we try not to serve seconds until everyone has gone through the line once. This is not always achievable. So the goal is to bring enough so that everyone gets something; most get as much as they desire; most have something left over for breakfast.
    It’s really a different definition of a meal.

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