Hunger Intervention Program’s Shelter Meals program served nearly 14,000 meals to residents of The Oaks in its first six months of operation. Since the program began, the number of meals served in a week has more than tripled. Read on to learn more about how the program has evolved and what’s coming up soon.
What is The Oaks?
The Oaks is an “enhanced” shelter in Shoreline which operates 24/7 and provides on-site support services such as meals, hygiene services, case management, and more to its residents. Residents of the shelter are unhoused individuals or couples who are working towards moving into permanent housing. The shelter opened in April of this year and is operated by Lake City Partners Ending Homelessness. Though it began with housing just 20 individuals, by the summer the number had increased to its maximum capacity of 60 residents.
Hunger Intervention Program partners with Lake City Partners to provide the meals for The Oaks. When the shelter opened in the spring, our Shelter Meals Coordinator, Lauren Cameron, prepared breakfasts and dinners every weekday for the 20 residents. As the shelter grew in size, however, the program did as well. Today Lauren, with the help of the HIP team and volunteers, plans and prepares 60 nutritious breakfasts and dinners for residents of the shelter every day. This is equivalent to 840 meals each week.
Precise planning required
Producing 840 meals per week requires exceptional organizational skills. Each week Lauren must plan the meals, purchase ingredients, find recipes, lead volunteers in preparing the meals, serve dinner, and so much more. Lauren plans her menu week to week, which allows her to consider HIP’s current inventory and incorporate it into her meals to reduce food waste. This style of planning also allows her to have more creativity and consider the weather, produce donations, and other factors.
Monday through Thursday, Lauren works with volunteers in the HIP kitchen to cook a “hot meal”. Dinners are prepared just before serving time so they can be transported over to The Oaks and served while they’re still warm. For Friday through Sunday, Lauren’s assistant Emebet prepares meals that can either be easily reheated or served cold over the weekend.
There’s lots to be excited about as we look towards the future of the Shelter Meals program. This month HIP welcomed Sare, a new AmeriCorps member who will be working primarily with Shelter Meals. With Sare on board, the many tasks that go into running the program will be more evenly shared, creating the capacity to add a new nutrition education element to the program.
Also coming up soon for Shelter Meals is a renovated kitchen. Initially, meals were intended to be prepared in the kitchen inside The Oaks facility. Numerous challenges have delayed this dream, but after much grant writing, permit applying, and contractor hiring, The Oaks kitchen is looking to become a reality early next year. Once this happens, meals will finally be able to be prepared in the same space where they’re served.
Looking to contribute to the Shelter Meals team? We’re always looking for volunteers. Visit our Volunteer page to find out more!