Friday, May 6, 2011

Healing through food...

It's hard to find words to describe what happened last week when a series of tornadoes ripped through Alabama.  The destruction is profound.  The stories are heartbreaking.  The need seems never-ending.  What's more, one of the hardest hit areas—the city of Pleasant Grove—is a mere 14 miles from my front door.

How to help?  I'm not great with a chainsaw.  I'm not a doctor.  But I can cook.  And Wednesday, I had the opportunity to connect with some amazing folks through food, which, God willing, provided another brick in the wall of healing being built around Pleasant Grove.

My friends at Grace's Kitchen organized a breakfast to be served at Bethel Baptist Church, whose Family Center has been turned into a logistics center and makeshift commissary for the National Guard, volunteers, and tornado victims.

Call time was an early 3:30am at Hunter Street Baptist Church where volunteers prepped fruit salad, baked sausage-and-cheese muffins, and cooked cheese grits for about 400.

Everything was loaded into warmers and coolers for the trip to Pleasant Grove.

Pleasant Grove is in lock-down mode, so anyone trying to get in must pass through a check point manned by the National Guard and Alabama Highway Patrol.

We pulled into the Bethel Baptist Church parking lot just as the sun was coming up.  Piled outside the Chapel was much-needed water.

Thanks to generous donations from folks all over the South, a mini-WalMart has been set up inside the Family Center.  Those in need have access to everything from shampoo and razors to baby formula and blankets.

The breakfast line opened at 6am and the stream of folks was steady for almost four hours.

What do you do when someone donates 20lb of apples?  You sort through a refrigerated tractor trailer until you find a stack of 1-pound butter blocks; cobble together a few cups of brown sugar and raisins from the church's pantry; and accept a large bag of freshly shelled pecans from a local resident.  With the essentials in hand, core and chop the apples, toast the pecans, plump up the raisins in warm apple juice, melt the butter and brown sugar in a big ol' skillet.  Toss it all together with a few handfuls of crushed cinnamon granola bars, load everything into 2 giant aluminum roasting pans, cover with foil, then pop 'em in the oven at 350˚ until the apples look and taste yummy (about 30 to 35 minutes).  In under an hour that box of apples turned into a warm treat on a chilly morning (with enough left over for lunch).

Sadly, the need for volunteers in cities like Pleasant Grove, Tuscaloosa, Cullman, and Hackleburg will be there for weeks, if not months.  However, this provides each of us with an opportunity to give of our time, talents, and treasures.  Please keep all of these folks in your prayers.
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

© Copyright Jones Is Hungry LLC   All Rights Reserved