This is how the kitchen works, the details, the specifics, the requirements.
All kitchen volunteers for Love Thy Neighbor must have valid, unexpired food handlers cards from the State of Texas. These typically cost about $10, are good for 2 years, and consist of an online course. One example can be found here. When you acquire your card, turn it in to the Salvation Army office where the information will be included in the database.
Additionally, at all times there must be someone on the premises that has food management certification. This is typically a $65 online course of 8 hours duration. A typical site to take one of these courses can be found here. At present there are about 8 volunteers and 1 staff person that have this certification.
So now that we have the volunteers, what about the food?
First the menus. Menus are created by the kitchen program manager several weeks in advance. They include an entrée of some kind, vegetables, salad and fruit. Each menu entrée has a recipe to accomplish the entree’s creation.
Food comes into the kitchen from 3 primary sources: 1) donations from individuals and from grocers, 2) purchases by the Salvation Army from the North Texas Food Bank, and 3) purchases by LTN to fulfill the menu requirements for the week. As an example of #3, if the menu/recipe calls for a specific item, such as tortillas and we don’t have them, then the LTN kitchen program manager will order them or purchase them.
Around 830am each morning, Monday thru Friday, kitchen volunteers show up, consult the menu and the recipe and begin preparation of the day’s meals.
At around 1145am, most of the items prepared for lunch are moved to the steamer and cooler tables and all preparations are made to open the doors to the dining room and begin serving lunch promptly at 12 noon.
From noon to 1pm each day, Monday thru Friday, anyone who shows up to eat is given a meal. The meals typically consist of an entrée (could be casserole, chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, ham, turkey and the like, along with a vegetable, bread, green salad and fruit salad). Drinks and a dessert are also served.
At 1pm the doors close and we clean up, mark and tag any leftovers which either go to the office to be given to clients, are held to the next day, or are frozen for future use.
On a typical day, we serve around 100 meals and give away 20 to-go lunches for clients who have no cooking facilities. Over the course of a year, we serve around 24,000 meals and give about 4800 to-go meals.