[St. Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church] At the Volunteers of America Family Homeless Shelter in downtown Reno, Nevada, members of St. Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church spent Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, providing recipes and ingredients for nourishing Crock-Pot meals to the more than two dozen families living there.
“Each family unit has access to a microwave and a Crock-Pot for cooking meals,” said Georgia Tachoires, the St. Catherine of Siena member who coordinated the event. “It was decided to provide food for three easy Crock-Pot recipes, and demonstrate how to cook these inexpensive, nutritious meals.”
St. Catherine’s volunteers arrived with 27 grocery bags, each containing three printed recipes for a simple Crock-Pot meal and all the ingredients needed to make one of the three dishes right away.
Thanks to church member Caty Eisele, 16, who loves to watch celebrity-chef cooking demonstrations on Food Network, the community room at the Homeless Shelter took on a Julia Child-style television cooking show format. She and her friends put on a show for the shelter’s parents, while children were kept entertained with arts and crafts.
“It felt really good to use my knowledge of cooking to help others,” Eisele said. “I was hoping to help their cooking skills so they can better feed their families.”
In urban centers all across the United States, residents often face a lack of access to fresh food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture calls these urban areas “food deserts” — places where a substantial number of low-income residents are more than a mile from a healthy food retailer.
“They can’t always get fresh food there,” said the Rev. Laurie Chappelle, rector of Reno’s small but growing St. Catherine’s, established in 2007. “That’s the basic problem. They have to walk two miles to get to the closest store.”
The Crock-Pot event was organized in tribute to the inspiration of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. People all across the nation have begun to get involved in community service projects on the January holiday that bears his name. Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards had specifically urged his flock to get active on this nationa
l day of service by making a positive difference in their own communities through meaningful outreach.
“The event was a huge success,” Tachoires said. “The St. Catherine’s volunteers wore special t-shirts and hats provided by the Diocese of Nevada, and Reno’s Channel Two and Channel Eight news teams filmed and spotlighted it on the evening news.”
— Martina Beatty is a freelance writer in Reno.