Today was my first time volunteering in the Zucker Family Production Kitchen at the Lowcountry Food Bank (LCFB). It was quite interesting but I am not a total novice when it comes to kitchens. My wife lets me wash the dishes and the floor. As far as cooking goes, I do breakfast foods and meat sauce for pasta. I am close to being a one trick pony when it comes to cooking.
But that is not the case with Chef Kim. Food Works Executive Chef Kim Ortego Kuver knows her stuff and is totally in charge in her kitchen. The first thing she did when I arrived was give me a rundown of the rules and regulations. She explained about hygiene and how important it is in handling food. She explained where everything belonged and, hopefully, I will remember some of it when I return. Oh yes, I plan to return.
So decked out in my stunning apron and hair net I followed Chef Kim around as she gave me my orientation information. After that I was tasked with opening #10 cans (big) of fruit cocktail and putting the fruit in a pan to chill. Then I was shown how to wash part of the growing mountain of dirty pans, trays, containers and other kitchen necessities. Now this is something I can shine at (no pun intended). So I washed pans in a special washer and later put them in their proper homes around the kitchen. Next, I helped put hundreds of individual portion milk containers in large coolers for organizations such as the Salvation Army. Finally, I worked with another volunteer doing food prep. We were washing and quartering large flats of cherry tomatoes.
The kitchen was buzzing with activities. Chef Kim would turn and give direction to one of the Food Works apprentices or ask them questions about the food they were preparing. Here is where I have to use information found in Lowcountry Food Bank (LCFB) literature. Please bear with me while I give you some background information.
In January 2011 the Food Works Program was initiated. The program is based on three pillars - Cook, Teach and Nourish. The key initiative of the Food Works Program is the production and daily distribution of hot, healthy meals for the most vulnerable segments of our population - children and senior citizens. During the school year, meals are prepared for food-insecure children part of the LCFB's Kids Cafe program, as well as second-daily meals for home-bound senior citizens through a partnership with East Cooper Meals on Wheels. Meals are produced for children even when school is out, and delivered to four different sites for distribution. Currently, the Food Works apprentices and volunteers are producing 2,000 meals per week for children and senior citizens experiencing hunger.
My next installment in this series will be the Food Works apprentice program.
For more information, go to www.lowcountryfoodbank.org.