We often talk about how our meals work to build and develop relationships out in the community. It's clear to us too, that a rich and wonderful community is also created every week with our volunteers in our Prep Room, in the Kitchen, in our Gardens, and on the Food Trucks. Our volunteers' dedication, passion, and creativity shine bright every time they're with us. Jackie Jones is one of our regular volunteers in the Prep Room and had an idea to develop a "Second Helping" soup program for the residents at John L Glenn Residential Center. We wanted to share the inspiration behind this program. Enjoy Jackie's words!
Volunteer Reflection: Second Helping Soups
BY JACKIE JONES
About 18 months ago, I began volunteering at The Nashville Food Project. I was looking at various organizations on Hands on Nashville, and it sounded like a fun, meaningful experience that matched my passion for all things food. On my very first day I was struck by the sense of community and welcoming attitude of Sarah and Anne. By my third session, I realized I was receiving more than I was giving at my chopping station.
I signed up to go out on the Thursday truck run. I loved seeing the end process for the food that is prepared, and I immediately realized the sense of community that continues at this part of the process. As I continued going each week, I got to know the names of many of the residents at our stop. So much gratitude and good energy is shared between people, along with the delicious and healthy food. We began to observe the residents interacting more with one another, and taking care of neighbors who couldn’t make it down to get a hot meal. It became apparent that some of the residents are challenged to access healthy, easy-to-prepare food, especially during the winter months. I talked with Anne about creating a “second helping” – a reusable soup container filled with healthy, and already-available ingredients from our kitchen. The residents would be able to take it back, along with their hot meal, and enjoy it for another meal during the week.
It has been an interesting experiment! Everyone, of course, does not like soup. Orange is the least favorite soup color (unfortunate for us, because of the large number of sweet potatoes we usually have donated). Tomato, along with a few vegetables is a favorite. White bean soup is tolerated by many, and loved by a few. Some residents are still not sure what they are suppose to do with it, and the reusable containers usually forget to come back. The soup project may or may not continue, but it has opened up additional opportunities to understand the unique needs of the residents at this location. We know more of the residents' names and their personal histories because of the soup project. I definitely get a lot more hugs. The food is important, but again and again, I am reminded what it's really about is the relationships.