How often are you up at 5:00am on a Saturday morning?
Well, that’s what time Carol, the peer health worker arrived at the Food Bank to prepare a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, for anyone in need of a hot meal.
It was Easter weekend, but it was also the fourth Saturday of the month and time for Mike’s Lunch Baskett. In before sunrise, she worked alone, preparing the meal until Heather, a guest volunteer arrived to help. This is what the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank is all about. Heather struggles to make ends meet and needs the resources of the Food Bank. This is her chance to give back.
So, what does a typical Mike’s Lunch Baskett look like?
Carol never knows how many guests will come for a hot lunch so she has three large turkeys cooking in the ovens. One oven breaks down so she scrambles to move all three into one. She has an enormous pot of potatoes cooking when the four volunteers from Central Church, Sandy, Denise, Pat and Ann, arrive around 10:00 a.m. Some of the guests also pitch in to help when we need them. The volunteers start to prepare the trimmings – cook the peas, mash the potatoes, put out cookies and cranberries, butter the bread and make the stuffing and gravy. The turkeys are carved. Tables and chairs are set up for ~50 people in the small hall. We put out the coffee and other refreshments and set up the serving tables ready to receive the food.
Everyone helps to wheel the food along from the kitchen and at 11:00 – 1:00 guests arrive and sit down to enjoy a wonderful meal served in a friendly safe environment. We ferry guests up and down the elevator, keep counts of the guests and hand out gifts of toiletries. Today we greet and serve nearly 90 guests – it is mostly men today –some are seniors, others with disabilities, others are unemployed. There are no children today. Most of the turkey disappears and as the guests are leaving there are many words of warm and sincere appreciation.
Lots of clean up begins after a very busy day at Mike’s but the tired volunteers know there are many thankful hearts. Carol repeats her promise that she will continue this program as long as she is able. As we leave Carol reminds Denise that she might want to remove her hairnet!