The weather had warmed up to -32 with the wind chill this morning. I was a little bit ticked when my remote car starter didn’t fire up my van for me. This meant that my toes were cold as I started it up in the old fashioned manner. I was so ashamed of my arrogance as I remembered this moment when I arrived at Siloam Mission. Imagine having to line up for a warm bed and a hot meal? Hundreds of people do so each day at Siloam. I was there at Daughter #2′s urging as the Frenchman is now employed at Siloam and she had heard so many great things about volunteering in their kitchen.
And she was absolutely correct! From the moment I was greeted by a volunteer co-ordinator and introduced to Kitchen Managers Corrie and Chris, I was so impressed. The time passed so quickly as I learned new kitchen techniques and got to work alongside dedicated volunteers including an entire crew of students from the University of Western Ontario who had given up their reading weeks to spend the time as volunteer kitchen assistants!
As I arrived, the breakfast service was just commencing. Because of the cold, Chris wanted all of the patrons to have a bowl of something hot so porridge was served with toast, peanut butter and fruit. Hot coffee is unending. Chris thought that French toast would be nice for tomorrow and he happily mentioned that there are times when he can serve the patrons scrambled eggs or omelets from Burnbrae Farms. I met the good folks from Burnbrae at a bloggers event in Toronto; they will be happy to know what joy ther donations bring.
I was on lunch detail with the rest of the crew.
On the menu was a choice of turkey noodle or mushroom potato soup, a slice of pizza (generously provided by Little Ceasars pizza), a freshly made ham sandwich and a sweet. In the summer months, Siloam substitutes the soup with a salad. One of the dessert choices was my favourite Mennonite treat of blueberry platz. I was tasked with slicing the ham and then took my place on the sandwich assembly line. The Western team made quick work of the sandwiches because Chris had promised them that he would teach them how to make pasta from scratch to be the “noodles” of the turkey soup.
They were an enthused bunch and kept remarking how they couldn’t believe that they were in a “soup” kitchen and not a multi-starred restaurant. This is what I was most impressed with. Chris could cut cooking corners and used packaged stocks filled with additives and excessive salt but he painstakingly made the stock from scratch to ensure the quality. In addition, from scratch cooking is truly the best use of food and monetary donations and Chris and the folks at Siloam must intrinsically know this. Of course, “from scratch” methods cannot occur every day, but as often as Chris has the volunteer resources to do so. Everything is carefully used BUT when I say everything, quality is never compromised. A volunteer preparing the lettuce for the sandwiches asked Chris if she should use the lettuce if it was discolouring and he responded “the rule of thumb is-we don’t serve it to our patrons, if we wouldn’t eat it ourselves”.
Another of my tasks was slicing up pulled turkey for the soup. Chris explained how the roasting of 150 turkeys has already commenced for Easter dinner and that every single bit of the bird is utilized. Turkey necks and wings had been roasted the day before to make the nutritious (and tasty) stock. When the sandwich line was cleared away, Chris began his pasta making session.
All of these steps went in place, to produce this delicious and nutritious soup. Why go to this much trouble? Because food=love and the patrons of Siloam are loved beyond their wildest imaginations.
Our Frenchman and Chris.
Do you have a not-for-profit food focused charity that deserves a special mention in this blog space? Let me know and I would be happy to visit them.
Kath’s quote: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” -Matthew 25:35
Love-that is all.