"Thanks - I think that might've been the best meal I've ever had."
These sincere words were spoken to me Monday evening by a gentleman who had just finished a hot meal of roast pork loin (with homemade applesauce!) accompanied by potatoes, salad, bread, and apple crisp for dessert. He shouldn't have been thanking me though - I just show up to help dish-out the Community Hot Meals every other Monday evening at the Screaming Avocado Cafe. He really should have been complimenting the students from the Northwestern Secondary School culinary arts program, who spend every second Monday afternoon cooking a wonderful, healthy meal for Stratford citizens in need of a nutritious hot dinner.
He could also thank Liz [above, back in between the giant fork and spoon] and Janet, the committed volunteers who orchestrate this amazing program. These women really care about the community and its food security, and their efforts in collaboration with Paul Finkelstein and the SNSS culinary arts class have certainly not gone unnoticed or unappreciated: on Monday we served EIGHTY free hot meals!!
The grateful patrons of the Community Hot Meals program include seniors, disabled individuals, families with children, and dozens of other Stratford folks who could really use a hot meal, as well as a chance to sit and chat with other community members over a coffee or two.
There are others to thank too. Many restaurants within Stratford's culinary community have donated to the program, including: Pazzo's, Fellini's, Foster's, Othello's, Down the Street, Bijou, Tango, The Church and The Sun Room. The food community in Stratford has really taken up the slack in response to the recognition that people in our town still go to bed hungry some nights: Not on our watch!
This Sunday, other Stratford residents and visitors can pledge their support for this high-impact program. That means you!! The Delicious Stratford Debut Stroll is taking place on the afternoon Sunday, May 2nd: participants stroll from restaurant to restaurant tasting some of the dishes that will be on offer for the next two months on the Delicious Stratford prix fixe menus that will be provided at many of this city's best restaurants throughout the spring. All ticket sale proceeds go to the Community Hot Meal program!
Get your tickets ASAP and ask for me, the Local-Come-Lately, to be your tour guide! Spots are limited, and mine are being snapped up fast, so get on it!
PS: Janet, Liz and I would all like to thank Alex, [also pictured above, at left] a Screaming Avocado student who showed up and did the work of about ten people on Monday at the Community Hot Meal. Alex - you're the man!!!