Past, Present & Future

As September draws to a close, it’s nice to notice that summer threw us a few more days before fall and, eventually, winter come at us with full force. A quick peek back at warm days and lazy afternoons. As people start looking for wood for burning, the price of oil for furnaces and *gasp* forays into Christmas shopping, we also are looking forward, preparing for the seasons to come. Every day, every season, every event seems to come with a mix of past, present and future.

In my personal life, we’ve recently undertaken the chaos and commotion with that project known as KITCHEN RENOVATION. An event that has been years in the making, waiting in the wings for the circumstances to align and finally come to realization! So as I boxed up all my cooking toys, tools and utensils, sorted through the plethora of mugs collected over the years, there was that look back into decades of life lived in our kitchen.

With the supplies and belongings removed, “the boys” began the demolition of what was probably a state of the art, up-to-date showroom of a kitchen when it was first built some 40-odd years ago. Hints of the past revealed themselves again, under layers of paneling and carpet (kitchen carpet? What were they thinking?) and consideration for other lives, other meals and another era as we prepared to move forward.

I have the chance to choose counter top, cabinet styles, fresh paint colors and some pretty impressive new appliances. Looking forward to cooking, entertaining and the general benefit of having everything fresh and new, not to mention in good working order!

As I plan for a new future in our private cooking arena, live with the present chaos of a dismantled kitchen, a piece of the past peeked out and provided inspiration for our October plans at All Are Welcome (aka – I told you that story to tell you this one):

Last year, we spent October trying to encourage more folks to visit All Are Welcome by launching our own independent SCARE AWAY HUNGER program with reminders that there are a lot more people than most would care to admit are who are struggling to keep food on the table – seniors on fixed incomes, families that receive free or reduced meals through the schools but have nothing for weekends or vacations, disabled individuals who’s earning potential is limited by physical or mental illness and just regular folks who find themselves caught between incomes that aren’t increasing to match the higher cost of living.

Once again we invite you all to visit All Are Welcome and help us SCARE AWAY HUNGER – we’ll have some fall & Halloween crafts, our Halloween Tree (based on the book by Ray Bradbury…check it out at the local library!) will be on the wall for folks to decorate with pumpkins, and we’ll have some sort of Halloween giveaway the last week of the month.

This October, we’d like to offer a little THROW BACK THURSDAY into our mix. For those of you who haven’t heard this term, THROW BACK THURSDAY is a social media theme (Face Book, Twitter, Instagram) that has folks pulling out their faded photos, scrapbook clippings and assorted memorabilia as an excuse to post more things, remember family and friends and poke some good-natured fun at themselves!

Among the tidbits found during our demolition, we found a section of the Standard Times featuring the Middleboro School Lunch Menus. Not exactly stellar, healthy choices by 2014 guidelines, I guess, but so reminiscent of the mental picture that comes to mind when someone says “School Lunch”.

Our October menu has been created based on the meals featured in this 1971 clipping – and because our lunch service happens on Thursday – we have given a nod (with some artistic license) to good old School Lunch!

As you peruse our menu based on the PAST, while you read this post in the PRESENT, that you will consider a hope for the FUTURE: No one should ever be hungry. Our mission at All Are Welcome is to ensure that everyone has access to a tasty, nutritious meal. Our ALL VOLUNTEER staff works hard to pull our collective group of personalities, experiences and capabilities together to prepare, serve and present a dining experience worthy of the donations offered by our guests and inviting to all, especially those who benefit from our mission.

Please join us this month to help us SCARE AWAY HUNGER and enjoy some fun, some food and some friendship. Help us to help others – by sharing our mission, posting our menus and most of all by dining at All Are Welcome!!


Taking Stock

I am not a big fan of winter. Most of the season, I spend my time wondering why I live in this part of the country. Then I remember three things: Spring, Summer and Fall. This is one of the few areas that has 4 distinct and separate seasons. Sometimes they run into each other…this August has been more Fall than Summer. Mostly, though, each season comes and goes with it’s own characteristics, individual reasons for loving (or hating) and special events and occasions to mark the passing of the year.

A lot of people make their resolutions and promises to change things or do better for themselves or those around them with the start of a new calendar year – January 1. For me, the unofficial start of the school year has always been more of a new start for me than New Years. The new school year – fresh notebooks, new clothes, new classmates and a new teacher or two always seemed like the perfect time to regroup, make plans and turn over a new leaf as the leaves themselves begin to turn. My birthday falls at this time of year too; the first day of school and the anniversary of my birth coincided more than once as I was growing up.

It’s no real surprise to me that as we start September 2014 that I have looked around and realized there are more than a few things to improve, eliminate or begin, both at home and at All Are Welcome.

We’ve already begun some changes at AAW – one of our biggest goals for the last few months is to round out our volunteer team and include more regular team members, offer some much needed time off for the those that have dedicated more than I could or should have expected, and create more opportunity for those who would like to share in our mission. Our regular guests may have already noticed some of the new faces in the dining room and the kitchen!

One of my greatest loves has been sharing food experiences with others. Cooking with ingredients that may be unfamiliar to some, incorporating a larger variety of tastes, and teaching others the joy of preparing food.

As I prepared September’s menu, the focus was on our inventory – staple ingredients that have been waiting for a chance to shine. As we move deeper into the fall, we will be looking for ways to include the new crop of seasonal bounty that New England has to offer. While the food we present will be changing with the seasons, our volunteers will be encouraged to find their place to shine also! Many of them have offered recipes and menu suggestions, some of our student novices, with no kitchen experience will be invited to develop new skills and more will be expanding their knowledge of the restaurant by changing their roles in and out of the kitchen.

We invite you to come taste and try and experience food, share in our community and be a part of our mission. The need for hunger relief efforts exists. There is a new wave of concern and recognition for the hidden problems of poverty and an under served population who are falling into the cracks of the system. We hope everyone finds something through our mission – the chance to serve, a friendly smile, nourishment for body and mind. Come and share the bounty of our tables and the warmth of our community!