Eating regular, balanced meals is essential to health. Proper nutrition is even more important for our homeless patients who are recovering from illness, injury, or managing a chronic disease. For some, their stay at Christ House is the first time in months or years that they can rest assured that they’ll have proper home-cooked meals every day.
Our kitchen staff provides over 150 meals each day for individuals with varying diets and appetites, all while on a budget. Finding food that is healthy, accessible, and affordable is key.
We acquire a significant portion of our fresh produce – about 500 lbs per week – for free at the Capitol Area Food Bank. They provide food items to nonprofits and food pantries by sourcing and distributing donated and discounted foods weekly. We’re thankful that our partnership with the CAFB allows us to shop frugally and to help prevent food waste in our community.
We also receive a significant amount of food from meal volunteers who both bring and serve complete meals to patients and Kairos Program members. Many of these groups have been with us since the beginning and we are grateful for their continued support.
We purchase the remaining items – fresh fruits, dry goods, canned goods, etc. – in bulk from a major food distributor who gives nonprofits like Christ House a special rate.
Diligent planning and preparation ensures that over 150 meals are prepared properly and on time every day. Our Executive Chef creates a menu a week in advance, largely based on what seasonal produce is available at the food bank. To cook meals in large quantities, our kitchen is stocked with essential industrial appliances like a five-row oven and 60 quart pots.
Our kitchen staff also make alternative meals to accommodate special diets and allergies. For instance, some patients need a ‘soft mechanical’ diet which requires food that is tender and cut into bite-size pieces.
By centering our menu on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, we are ensuring that patients receive the nutrition crucial to building strength, supporting recovery, managing blood-sugar levels, and maintaining a healthy weight.
To encourage healthy eating, our staff strives to make meals that are appetizing and familiar. We frequently serve hearty side salads and vegetables that are seasoned and cooked to complement the entrée.
Still, we know the importance of comfort food every once in a while. One of our most popular meals for special occasions is mashed potatoes and gravy, collard greens, roasted chicken thighs, and a dinner roll.
Our work is ongoing as we seek to accommodate the specific needs of those we serve. It is our hope to continue educating our patients on ways to embrace a healthy lifestyle in body, mind, and spirit.
This was the feature article in our Winter Newsletter – view the whole newsletter here!