I know I am very lucky that I have never gone hungry. I have never opened the pantry and found it empty.
This is not true for everyone - in America, kids still go hungry. People still do not have enough to eat.
When you practice cooking sometimes there are mistakes - burned food, bad tasting food, poorly cooked food- food that no one wants to eat. You can't practice without making mistakes. So there is food waste. In order to have the freedom to learn to cook you need to waste a bit of food. It just happens.
A few years ago, I was learning and ruining food - so my Mom took me to St. John's Soup Kitchen just down the street from me and we cooked for those who are hungry. St Johns has a long history of feeding those in need and serves about 150 meals twice a week (that's 15,600 a year). It was my privilege to cook with them and give back to the food world. I am sure it does not surprise you that is is not restaurant quality food. It is stretch the money, feed the most people we can kind of cooking. It is harsh facing all those hungry folks - young, old, every race, every age, hungry people. It is tragic. It is real.
My Mom also had me help cook meals for Ronald McDonald House at St. Jude. these are families going through hard times dealing with tragically ill kids. They may not be classically hungry but they are in need and we decided we could help. The food left our home and we hoped it brought them comfort. We hope it told them we cared and that we wished them all health.
Last year, we heard that our friends at Trinity were going to host the homeless in a program called Room in the Inn - and they needed to feed 30 people a decent wholesome meal. We stepped up and cooked. Ham, hearty vegetable bean soup, potatoes, salad, biscuits fruit, dessert. We fed these sometimes forgotten people. We hope they too felt the warmth of a good meal, the fellowship of friends and warm place to sleep. This year we cooked the Thanksgiving meal.
We heard through the Boy Scouts that the local Rotary Club was going to package meals for hungry people- so I went early and with my friend and we packaged food. 1 cup rice, 1 cup vegetable protein, 1 vitamin pack, 1 tbs dried vegetable. Food enough for 6. Desperate food, low coast food, needed food. These packs are GRATEFULLY accepted. They are fought for. They are needed. And no chef would ever consider them in restaurant.
All these food experiences make me a better cook, a more compassionate food explorer and a more grateful human.
Maybe one day I will share my most meaningful story from St. Johns- the one I always carry in my heart. Not today.... today I am grateful for Breakfast!
Love the Cabbage Leaf,
Logan, Masterchef Junior Contestant
Here's a link to Trinity, if you want to help out.