One of my greatest regrets from college was not being more involved with my department’s efforts in supporting Philabundance, the greater Philadelphia-area food bank, and since then I’ve tried to make amends by supporting them through financial donations. A few weeks ago, however, I caught a glimpse of the local soup kitchen’s van outside Romeo & Cesare’s, and I was inspired to look into ways to contribute my time to such a worthy cause. A few emails later, and today marked my first day working prep in a soup kitchen.
To put it simply: it was awesome.
The Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen here in New Haven is a phenomenal organization that has been around for two decades. These days, it’s supported by a great network of volunteers, ranging from school groups to individual people (like me!) hoping to make a difference, and they have made great strides in providing wholesome meals to those in need of nourishing food. What is really admirable is that they seek to maximize the usage of the fresh produce they get from the Connecticut Food Bank so that they are providing meals with as many fresh ingredients as possible, ensuring not only that their guests are being fed, but are being fed well.
I spent this afternoon chopping up red and yellow bell peppers and tiny yellow onions, the former to go into a salad as well as a chicken and rice casserole, and the latter to help out the kitchen staff later in the week, and it felt so good to be able to enter a Zen-like state of calm, just slicing and dicing while listening to the hum of discussion among other volunteers as well as engaging in conversation as well. It was the chance to be a sous chef without the stress of working for a potentially overbearing boss, and while I gratefully sank into my car seat at 4:10 this afternoon, I’m pretty sure that I felt the high that runners often speak of as their drive to keep going.
More to come on this, as this will not be the last time I visit DESK, as I’m already planning on taking Michael there to check it out for himself. In the meantime, I urge local readers to either donate funds, food and/or time to this very worthy cause.