October marked the kick-off to Good Eats, an updated and improved version of the Haven’s Healthy Eating program. The mission of Good Eats is “to expose Haven patrons to reliable and ongoing varieties of food, which are inexpensive, easy to prepare, tasty, and nutritious.” The aim is to provide a healthy entrée in the Caruso Café between 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at least three times a week.
The new program builds on a strong foundation from Healthy Eating, which utilized talented volunteer cooks, tasty varieties of food, and helpful recipes and ingredient bags for guests to take home to recreate meals. In the switch to Good Eats, the serving location of food has been shifted to the counter in the Café, full-size portions are now offered, and signage throughout the main floor of the Haven helps encourage visitors to enjoy a meal.
Thoughtfulness is key for the Haven and community members alike when it comes to the Good Eats objectives. With serve-and-eat education, volunteers offer patrons a healthful serving of food (along with the recipe and ingredients) to address immediate hunger, fears related to scarcity, and tools to support cooking. Volunteers and staff are focused on mindfulness of trauma and food triggers as they prepare and serve food, as everyone’s experiences with food do not look the same. The selected recipes intentionally utilize available food from the Haven shelves with a focus on stretching and maintaining tight food budgets, much as someone would do at home. Fresh produce, ingredient-cooking, and the use of herbs and spices are emphasized as means to enhance food flavoring while keeping within a budget.
Through Good Eats, the Haven hopes to increase reliable food choices for families and their financial stability. By giving patrons access to reliable food and easy-to-prepare recipes, we are improving their health and reducing malnutrition. By teaching clients to choose inexpensive yet nutritious and filling ingredients, meal costs can be offset and budgets extended.
Kristen Coats, Coordinator of Food & Wellness Programs, spearheaded the changes for Good Eats and has worked closely with a dedicated team of volunteers and staff to increase the quality of healthy food offerings to our Haven guests. The program is wonderful complement to our Food Shelf and service coordination efforts throughout and beyond the building.