Thursday, October 10, 2013

Florida Humanists and Supper Club Advice

A few weeks ago I found out that a group that I belong to got a couple awards for our food related service projects.  I was asked if I wanted to pick up the award on behalf of Fellowship of Freethought Dallas at the Humanists of Florida Freethought Conference and I was about to decline since I knew I was going to be traveling later in the month.  Then I got a look at the list of speakers.  Not only are some of those speakers people whom I count as friends, but I saw that James Randi would be the keynote speaker on Sunday.  I felt that as a good Skeptic I couldn't pass up that opportunity so off to Southwest.com I went to use up some miles.

I also found out yesterday that they are offering an opportunity to purchase access to a live stream edition of the conference, so for the price of a movie ticket you too can also watch James Randi and the other big name speakers.  Go here to purchase your ticket, and if you want to add some pithy quotes to your 2014, purchase a calendar here.

One of the awards we at Fellowship of Freethought received was the "Feed the Need" award for outstanding food-related volunteering.  One of more unique events that we do is a monthly supper club for an organization called AIDS Service of Dallas.  A few years ago I was asked to write down some advice for other groups that may want to do something similar, and so here is a reblog that I did for Foundation Beyond Belief.

The Fellowship of Freethought Dallas has been participating in the AIDS Service of Dallas Ewing House Supper Club since January of 2010. The supper club consists of making a nutritious meal for residents of the home one evening a month. Many of the groups who come in are from churches but as far as we are aware FOF Dallas is the only secular group that participates. It is a fun and rewarding experience, and the patients of Ewing House really appreciate everything FOF Dallas does to keep the service friendly and the menu exciting.

For those of you who are interested in participating in a Supper Club in your own community, Melanie from FOF Dallas has the following helpful tips for you and your group!
Melanie Recommends:
  • Get a rough idea of what other groups are serving. The Ewing House has a record book where each group records the meals that they have served. They tend to get A LOT of casseroles, lasagna, people bringing in fried chicken, etc
The people at the ASD homes are very appreciative of anything brought in; however, I know they get bored with the same thing over and over. Who wouldn’t? So we try to use the cooking talents of our group to make unique meals such as stir fry, savory and sweet “pie night” and so on.
  • Create a “theme” for the menu. It helps make sure that everyone makes recipes that go together and you can use it to create a fun atmosphere. This past Thursday we had a Halloween theme and got to give out goody bags to the residents.
  • Make sure you have a sign-up sheet at that all participants do actually sign up for a particular item, that way you won’t have 5 different people bringing the same thing
  • Prepare most of the items, if not all, ahead of time so you’re ready to “heat and eat” once you actually get there.
  • For the first meal, make the foods easy to prepare, transport, and make sure the foods tend to be universally liked. Since our first experience was in January we did soups and chili; easy to make, easy to bring in a pot to reheat on the stove, and “comfort food” for many people.
  • Find out if people in the group have special dietary needs. I found out that one of the residents has celiac disease, and several of our regular volunteers are gluten intolerant as well! I know that that particular resident looks forward to a meal where he will have options that are clearly labeled.
  • Make things from scratch whenever possible. You get to try new recipes and people really do notice and appreciate the effort.
  • If you are the group leader, keep a set of supplies like serving utensils, cleaning supplies, etc. in such a way where you can easily transport them. I keep everything in several large plastic storage tubs and then I can just grab and go when our fourth Thursday of the month comes around!
  • Keep a record of the meals you’ve done and take notes on what works and what doesn’t. I’ve found that out the hard way! Even though all our meals have been successful we’ve had some meals where we ran short or ran way over on food. Fortunately we get to package up the leftovers for the “common” fridge (and they do get eaten!) so we don’t mind if we are a little over. You will want to repeat some successful themes again so that way you can make sure you have enough for next time!
  • Try to eat with the residents/people you are serving as much as you can, otherwise you get so caught up in the serving and cleaning that you forget to have fun!

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