The hungry are are our neighbors, as I wrote yesterday for Yamhill Valley Grown after visiting Heart 2 Heart Farms where farmer Tyler Boggs distributes free produce to anyone who wants it. Some of the produce is a bit tired and best fed to his animals, but Tyler realized much of the food was in great condition and several hundred people show up each Friday to gather what they want.
I went yesterday to see the activity and took advantage of the offering to bring 4 huge totes of fruit to the church. At 7:00am my first duty, assigned by this week’s head chef and pastor Mark Pederson, was to prepare a fruit salad.
About 8 volunteers arrived at 7 to help with the prep. They chopped potatoes and onions, broke and beat the eggs, shredded the cheese, prepared the pancake mix, formed sausage patties and all the things that needed to be prepped for the meal.
Others arrived around 7:30 to prepare the dining room and for some quick training to newbie volunteers. Then it was 8:00a.m. and the doors were open and I joined the serving line. Other volunteers arrived to help with the dish washing and others would arrive later to help with the overall cleanup.
At the Coop the people come in and sit at tables covered with cloth and chose their breakfast from the menu. The servers then bring the orders up to the window where several of us load the plates or take-out boxes. As we dished up the plates the servers would bring them to the appropriate person for their eating pleasure.
The people who come to eat are treated with respect, no questions asked, no prayer service requirement. Take-out boxes are offered for those at home who could not make it in for the meal.
Today we had a big bang for a start. It seemed, when I looked out at 8:00 that all the seats at all the tables were full, and sure enough the orders came in fast and furious and we soon fell behind. Dishing as quickly as we could, the last of those 8:00 a.m. eaters finally got their plates around 8:20. And the orders kept coming in pretty steadily but at a more manageable pace.
Things slowed down about 9:30, a half hour before the official end of serving at 10. By then the fruit salad was gone, the hash browns were all eaten, but there were plenty of scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes and a delicious peach and blueberry cobbler Mark had prepared.
I know I enjoyed my breakfast very much!
Helping at the Coop or another soup kitchen is a way to return appreciation to the community. People who enjoy meals can also volunteer, as can people who are not even members of the church. We get volunteers during the school year from Linfield College but during the vacation breaks everyone who shows up has to work a bit harder because we don’t have enough hands. If you can help, you are very welcome to join in. Contact Lauri Muller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 435-890-4214.