One of the community ministries supported by the Outreach Team and congregation is the Homeward Bound meal preparation and service on the second Wednesday of each month. The obligation involves meal planning, shopping, preparing, and serving the meal.
Homeward Bound is a shelter in Grand Junction offering meals and emergency housing to the homeless community; however, it is much more than just a homeless shelter. Case managers work with clients in applying for benefits, and to overcome barriers to employment and permanent housing. The Phoenix Project, a program specifically for veterans, provides unique case management designed to assist them gain independence through designated housing resources. A recent addition to Homeward Bound’s resources is their culinary arts program, which is a free set of classes available to both clients and the general community, and teaches basic kitchen skills, food safety, and daily commercial kitchen operations. (During their last visit, our youth group got to experience the spice and herb test administered by resident chef Daryl!)
Our service day actually begins two to three days in advance, when St. Matthew’s volunteers (led by Shannon Castanada) and Chef Daryl go through the shelter’s meat locker and select a protein (meat) for our meal. Then, on Wednesday morning, we go to the Homeward Bound kitchen to “scope out” ingredients in the walk-in refrigerator, dry stores, dessert shelves, and canned goods. A menu is planned, and, armed with a $50 City Market gift card provided by the St. Matthew’s Outreach Team, we shop for ingredients not already on hand in the shelter’s kitchen.
Volunteers from St. Matt’s and other community groups arrive around 2:00 p.m., and this is when the fun really begins! It is organized chaos and delicious smells as ingredients are chopped, sautéed, baked, and blended! One of our team principles is that we will prepare our dishes from scratch, feeding our community as if they were guests in our homes, because they MATTER to us. We also try to find each volunteer’s strength in the kitchen and utilize those accordingly; one person might be a great baker, while another is fast with a knife. We aim for a main dish with meat, a starchy side and/or hot vegetable, a chopped salad, sometimes a fruit bowl, and two or three kinds of baked desserts. In April our meal consisted of shepherd’s pie with a garlic mashed potato crust, buttered corn, fruit salad, and homemade desserts (pumpkin dump cake, peach pie, and vanilla cake).
At 5:00 we begin serving our families and veterans. When they are eating, we prepare trays of “takeout” meals for clients who, for whatever reason, cannot be admitted to the shelter that evening, and “late” trays for clients who will arrive after mealtime due to employment or classes. Once these are done, our team takes a meal break. At 6:00 we serve our single persons, which is our largest group; these people often will return for seconds and even thirds, which is awesome! By 6:45 we are usually done, and we assist the kitchen staff with pulling the food back into the kitchen.
Thank you to all who have volunteered in the past, and who continue to support this ministry, from behind the scenes, and in cooking and serving! You’re invited to join in the fun! We cook again on May 8th and would love to have anyone interested in helping! For more info about the Homeward Bound meal ministry, please contact Shannon at 970-773-1449, Gretchen Lubinski or Cindy Murray.