Off we went on Thursday for our first, training session at the RJFP's Pot Luck Pantry. Freyja was there waiting for us, along with another new volunteer and we were sown around the kitchen and assigned tasks. The Builder was to be the Front of House person, and assistant washer upper. I was put to work assembling the ingredients for a Tuna Nicoise salad. Other volunteers turned up and by the time we opened for breakfast at 11 we had the makings of the salad, a potato bake, with a homity pie to follow up, soup, a Moroccan style stew and various other bits and pieces. Freyja was the host for the morning. Other volunteers came and went. And just before 2, The Builder and I left, taking Freyja with us for she was working the afternoon and evening shift at her place of actual employment. Other people took over for the afternoon and evening shifts.
We enjoyed it. It was good to be making tasty food from things that would otherwise be thrown away by the supermarkets and grocery stores. It was fun casting an eye over what was available and thinking about what you might be able to concoct.
On Friday I went to the Food Bank in Clay Cross for my second shift. This time I was asked to help with making the teas and coffees for the volunteers and clients. There are usually two people in the kitchen but one of the regular tea-makers was away on Friday. I enjoyed that too. I was partnered with a lovely, elderly gentleman who pretty much is always in the kitchen. We were exceptionally busy and our cups, cakes and biscuits flew out. The Builder is planning to come with me next Friday. You can't have too many volunteers packing up food parcels and distributing tea and cakes when you have people waiting in line for assistance.
On Sunday we returned to the Pot Luck Pantry, for the Sunday Lunch service. I had a great time. I was responsible for the Sunday roast beef, and for the gammon chunks with pineapple salsa, and for most of the plating up. We also had a bean chilli, a root vegetable bake, crumbed tofu, roast potatoes and a huge salad on offer. I think it is quite impressive how much the pantry offers that is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and also for people on gluten free diets. Of course, the menu is entirely dependent on what has come in, so things that people might want aren't always available - but a great deal of effort goes into trying to make food that as many people as possible can eat.
I have never really done anything like that before. I think I have probably fed almost that number of people before, but never in rolling sittings, and never in a commercial kitchen. It was Freyja's first time running the Sunday service. I think we both learnt lots, ready for next time. The Poor Builder spent almost all day washing dishes. I don't think he learnt much :-D
Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Flynn came for lunch (we made absolutely certain that Tabitha's gammon was properly hot :-D ). Cally was quite intrigued to find Grandad Jim and Gamma in the kitchen. "Are you allowed to be in there, Gamma? I didn't know you could cook in there. The food is very lovely!" (She was eating Freyja's root vegetable bake, which was very tasty indeed.)
We were very tired by the time we got home! It's a very, very long time since I spent so many hours on my feet. Funnily enough we weren't all that interested in spending much time in our kitchen preparing food. Fortunately, I had had the foresight to take a pre-prepared beef and vegetable stew out of the freezer. It heated itself while The Builder and I had a well-earned gin and tonic.