Tonight, dinner at the shelter was served by 12 volunteers from Women’s March Minnesota. It was delicious. It was a build-your-own-taco bar, homemade bread, brownies, scotcharoos and more. My heart melted a little when one happy guest told me she actually wished for tacos today. She wasn’t the only happy face in the crowd.
The volunteers came in at 6pm, started preparing the meal in the commercial-grade kitchen and setting up in the dining room. They took a quick break to tour the shelters with director Monica Nilsson. Then back at 7pm to start setting out the food and serving guests. There was plenty of time to visit with guests; a few of the volunteers offered that it was a highlight. At 8pm, guests moved upstairs and next door to settle in for the night while the volunteers cleaned up.
All told it was 2-3 hours in the shelter and I’m sure plenty of time shopping and preparing before they arrived. But what a difference it makes. It saves money for the shelters, it brings a homemade meal to the guests and provides and opportunity for guests and volunteers to mix and mingle. Reaching out to new people is always a good investment of time!
Women’s March Minnesota is the first group we’ve had adopt a meal, which means doing everything from prep to clean up. They are already checking their calendars to do it again, so that’s a good sign but we learned a few things along the way that might help another group sign up to help. We wanted to share some top questions:
- How many dinners do you serve?
Plan for 80.
- Do we need to bring beverages?
We have coffee and water. Juice is always a nice addition.
- Do we need to bring plates and cutlery?
Paper plates, napkins and plastic cutlery are helpful. Serving dishes and spoons are nice too.
- Can we bring extra?
Definitely! Guests may want to take some for later. Also you are welcome to leave behind food for us to use another night.
- Can we get help with food costs?
We work with Second Harvest, if you want help getting food we can connect you.
- Can we get help on site?
There will be someone on site who can show you the kitchen and help answer questions like – where do we leave food at the end of the night?
- Can we bring kids to help?
Before kids volunteer we like to talk to them (or have you talk to them) about what they might see to help with context of fatigue, altered states and mental health issues. Please contact us for more on bringing in kids.
Interested? You can sign up online and/or contact us.