Full Circle’s Donations Reach the Recovery Café
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I pulled up to the Recovery Café and walked in the front doors in blind anticipation. I was there to follow the food from Full Circle’s Harvest Moon Food Challenge donation – seeing where and how each pound of donated food impacted people throughout the community. What I discovered was not only a passion for good food and feeding those in need, but for completely nourishing the mind, body and soul, no matter what walk of life you are or background you have
I could see, on the walls just beyond the coffee bar decorated for the holidays, artistic sculptures of the words “we”, “truth”, “faith”, “grow”, “dream” and “forgiveness”. Warm, colorful walls surrounded the main common area where meals are served and meetings are held, and today a quaintly decorated tree sat in the corner near a bookshelf and two large armchairs.
Jason, the director of operations and frequent chef, introduced himself with a steady handshake and a genuine smile that caught my attention. Everyone I met at the Recovery Café had a contagious sense of happiness, pride, and passion for participating in this program.
The Recovery Café is a “recovery support center utilizing an alternative therapeutic community model. In a beautiful space, the Café supports women and men who are seeking a life of transformation, free from drugs, alcohol and other destructive behaviors,” and does nothing short of its’ description. With the help of mostly volunteers and members of the recovery program, the café serves two wholesome meals a day for an average of 200 people, which is just one part of their larger recovery program that includes educational and spiritual classes, Yoga, job training and more.
It’s amazing to see people come from life on the streets and transform, learn, engage and heal at this facility. One woman who helped out in the kitchen daily for over six months now has a full time job at Wolfgang puck, Jason explained. “At least 4 members have become certified Yoga instructors through our classes here too,” he said. Daily recovery circles help members heal and stay on track and special events, like open-mic nights and unique classes, keep them coming back.
Jason was excited to show off what he was serving for lunch that day: smoked salmon, sautéed kale and pasta salad, four varieties of soup and a fresh fruit salad.
“We’ll take whatever we can use,” said Jason, who supplies the kitchen with over 80% of the ingredients from donations. Food Lifeline is one of their main connections for food, which is how Full Circles’ donation reached their kitchen. “But we love when we get stuff like this,” Jason said as he ran his hand across the leafy tops of the Full Circle greens. “We make really good food here, quality stuff that everyone loves,” said Jason.
Jason and the other kitchen staff don’t work from recipes, partly because they can’t anticipate all the ingredients they are going to receive each week, but also because it creates an interesting challenge for members who are participating in the recovery process to learn life skills like pairing flavors, figuring out portion ratios, balanced meal planning, time management and independence.
Some program participants jump right in the kitchen and know what they are doing and some learn from square one. These kitchen skills, along with the barista skills taught at their in house coffee bar by Café Vita, help the recovery process while developing job skills for the future.
From the way each donation is received and prepared, to the respect each employee and member have for each other, the food and the program, it’s evident that this program is nurturing a positive change. The food is healthy: soup and salad is a regular staple and packaged, process and sugary foods are avoided. The atmosphere is healthy, and each individual who participates in the program is becoming healthier for it.
Seeing food go directly from our farm, through caring hands and to quality organizations like this one was inspiring for me to see, and hopefully for all of our Harvest Moon Food Challenge participants to hear about. The difference fresh and healthy food like ours makes in the community is immeasurable and every little bit counts!
A big thanks, again, to all who participated in the Harvest Moon Food Challenge. Without your participation, donations like this one would not have been possible. Stay tuned for future events and donation projects on our website and social media pages.