A few weeks ago, the Greater Chicago Food Depository was contacted by the Chicago-based Cimaglia Productions about an opportunity to participate in its new ChefBites.TV Web video project. The focus of the short video vignette would be the Food Depository’s Chicago’s Community Kitchens program—specifically the production and delivery of heat-and-serve Healthy Helpings meals to local older adults. We were thrilled with the opportunity and could not wait to get started. Filming began at the Food Depository as Chicago’s Community Kitchens staff and students prepared the Healthy Helpings meals from scratch—including curry-seasoned chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, fresh vegetables and pumpkin spice muffins. Properly-sized portions were arranged in single-serving biodegradable trays, sealed and flash-frozen for freshness. With the meals packaged, we were ready to head out into the community. Marillac House, a Food Depository member agency, invited the ChefBites.TV crew and me to shadow a few Healthy Helpings deliveries to home-bound older adults on the West Side.
Sister Mary Rita McSweeney heads up Marillac’s older adult program and delivers meals to 50 seniors each month. Serving the low-income communities on the West Side, Sister Mary Rita has seen how the Healthy Helpings meals impact her clients.
“To them, it’s such a big thing that they don’t have to worry about cooking,” Sister Mary Rita said of the meals, which are easily prepared in minutes by microwave or conventional oven. “They are wonderful meals that [clients] know are good for them. To hear their gratitude and excitement—I have the best job at Marillac.”
Our first stop of the day was the home of two sisters, Minnie Moore, 91, and Carrie Lewis, 94 (pictured above). For these sisters, the Healthy Helpings meals have fit seamlessly into their daily routine, while providing wholesome food they need. “When I don’t want to cook for lunch I can put this right in the oven—I don’t have to worry about seasoning,” Minnie said. “It’s a blessing.”
Visit ChefBites.TV online or follow @chefbitesTV on Twitter to keep up with the crew’s latest adventures. Be sure to check back here and at https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/ to see the finished video in the coming weeks!