Chris Boyer is one top chef! Boyer and his kitchen crew created a delicious and nutritious Christmas day feast for about 100 people at the Hope Rescue Mission, 745. N. 6th street, Reading, Pennsylvania.
He demonstrated how to fill the plates: a slice of ham, with pineapple, two slices of moist turkey, a spoonful of REAL, smooth mashed potatoes, a spoonful of lovely stuffing with all kinds of goodies in it, such as celery, a spoonful each of green beans, corn and yams.
“Fill up the plate,” Boyer said. “Each plate that comes out of here should look like this one. Make it full!”
Chris Lenich, the event organizer, is one top director! Dressed in a warm red sweater, black slacks and preserving her anonymity (until now) by not wearing a name tag, Lenich showed preparedness. The turnout for Thanksgiving day – the demand for meals – had been overwhelming, and she was determined to improve service in the dining room.
Volunteers from the community, who reported in at 10:30 a.m., covered the long tables with red, green and white coverings, made plastic tableware rollups for each place setting and set up the beverage and dessert station. Working like elves, they also dished out nuts, pretzels, rolls and cranberry portion cups, and sliced, cubed and plated cheese and Berks bologna until the hot meal was ready to serve. The deli trays looked like varieties of pizza, each done in a different pattern, until they were disassembled into smaller servings.
Lenich gathered several people for the hot food serving room, where plates were to be served an carried out to the waiting diners.
“Be ready,” she said. “It’s going to get crazy. I want only adults in here.”
The volunteers worked out an efficient system for the line to get plates of hot food to the guests. Lori and Tiffany managed the meats, Lois ladled the gravy – just to provide a sample of the teamwork.
The children, who were very polite and helpful, served beverages, such as cider or iced tea or egg nog. Fifty-three men sat down at noon to eat and more came in as the hour progressed.
The diners were mostly men, residents of the facility which offers “A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out.” They did not have to say a word, it was a glad meal!
When I helped bus tables, I noticed the disposable plates that went into the trash can were nearly as clean as before they were filled.
Food was provided mostly through donations. Off to the side of the dining area were pallets filled with additional cans and boxes of food, because after Christmas, the need to feed the hungry continues, it never ends.
Lenich, who recently joined the Hope Rescue Mission staff, credits being unemployed with helping her find her way there. Next year, Lenich said, a new series of classes are planned through the Gateway program, to help the residents with daily living skills that will improve their lives. Daily chapel attendance is required of the residents.
For more information about the Hope Rescue Mission: