This post is from J.C. Deobil, a full-time volunteer for Family Renew Community.
Photos: Volunteer J.C. Deobil, top left, and Program Manager Laurie Archer-Dugo. Bottom, the Meal in a Bowl project is ready to deploy.
Although a Home Extension dietitian comes in once a month with cooking classes for the moms on our Daytona Beach Residential Campus for single mothers experiencing homelessness with their children, we wanted to do something extra to help them become good cooks for their children, and show them how to cook an inexpensive meal. To give them some additional encouragement, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a container of food and a recipe card that would give them all they need to make a particular recipe. We put together all the ingredients and even the meat to make it an easy cooking experience.
In planning our approach, we decided to give them easy-to-find ingredients. Nothing gourmet or unusual. In filling the “bowls” with the ingredients we do not breakdown or divide any product. If the recipe calls for a teaspoon of mustard we include a small jar of mustard that they could use for that day's recipe and save the rest of the jar for their pantry as well. Also the recipes have simple instructions and are not complicated to make. And the products that are required are things that the residents would commonly use. Nothing too fancy.
The meal in a bowl arrives with the recipe and all the ingredients in a nice plastic container that can be reused. The program manager and her assistant deliver the packages to the families on their campus.
All the mothers get the meals at approximately the same time so no one feels slighted if she doesn’t get hers right away. We also chose only two meals per project, dividing them between the clients so one get Bowl A and the other Bowl B. Both have the same frozen meat. (This month we will distribute recipes and ingredients for Italian Chicken & Potatoes and Creamy Chicken with Rice.) Again trying to keep the process simple. No confusion over who gets beef and who gets chicken.
We want to give our parents something easy to cook that their children would like and that they don’t have to run to the store or use their food stamps to buy the ingredients. We've had great results and happy families.