Feeding People in a Pandemic
Our current Tuesday dinner procedure:
What does The Church that Feeds People do during a Pandemic? We feed people, of course. On Tuesday we enacted stringent measures to protect our volunteers and guests as we served 120 meals from the church and delivered another 140 meals to campsites.
We already have very high standards for cleanliness and hygiene in our feeding program with licensed food handlers leading the way to make sure that we use our commercial kitchen safely to produce healthy and safe food. Tuesday’s meal was a bit of a trial run for this time of heightened concern, but it seemed to work well.
The community dinners team is amazing. They really know what they are doing, and they have a great time working together. I think that in all the years we have been feeding people, this was the first time I have helped with preparing food instead of doing dishes!
Here’s what we did:
First, we packaged all the food in sturdy, biodegradable to-go boxes. I was in the kitchen, scooping spaghetti sauce onto noodles in the entrée boxes and we were scrambling to get the food packaged and ready.
All food was distributed outside the front door of the church, with only volunteers coming inside. We served the meal an hour early and we were able to just hand food to people and they didn’t have to stand in line. There was a good selection of boxed food and we provided paper grocery bags as well.
We are also very grateful to Congregation Beth Shalom of Seattle for donating “comfort bags” for the meal with socks, tissues, alcohol wipes, tuna, chocolate milk, snacks, and fruit.
These were packed by the children of their congregation. The bags and a generous donation to the program were a part of their Purim observance.
As the evening wound down, the last couple of people came for food. We gave a couple boxes to the last guy because we thought we were done, and then another person came. The guy we gave those last boxes to promptly opened his bag and shared the food.
That’s how we will get through this epidemic. We will change our behaviors to keep safe, we will take care of one another, and we will keep feeding God’s people in both body and spirit. I am profoundly grateful to Josef, Liz, Neal, Michael, Chris, and the entire team of our Community Dinner program for their careful dedication.
You are all in my prayers. Take good care of yourselves and one another.