Skip to comments.Let Them Eat Arugula: Trendy food snobbery has soup kitchens going off course
Posted on 05/15/2009 2:43:27 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
The $787-billion economic-stimulus plan signed by Pres. Barack Obama contained an often-overlooked section $150 million for food banks and other organizations that provide food to people in need. Responding to reports that food banks were running out of provisions because of rising unemployment and higher food costs, Congress intervened to help stock the shelves. But taxpayers the people paying for Congresss charitable endeavors should know that not all of these organizations are suffering. Some are even able to throw food away.
Last month, Michelle Obama visited Miriams Kitchen, which serves the homeless in Washington, D.C. She ladled out mushroom risotto to the men and women waiting in line, had her picture taken, and talked about the importance of volunteering to meet the growing needs of families around the country. The trip to Miriams Kitchen was received as a very good thing a very first-ladylike thing to do.
But the first ladys visit wasnt just about the needs of the homeless; it was also very much about the food itself. In a Washington Post article covering the visit, one Miriams Kitchen official explained, If anyone brings us donuts, Steve [the chef] throws them away. . . . It is not good food for our guests. We care too much to give them anything but the best. Steve wants our guests to have the same experience as if they were paying $30 for the meal.
There are a lot of things that are not good for the guests of Miriams Kitchen beginning with being homeless, a situation often caused by drug addiction and mental illness. And while eating a donut would seem to be the least of these peoples troubles, it is certainly a worthy goal for food kitchens to endeavor to provide a healthy meal to those they serve. All the same, that dismissal of donuts betrays an expanding food snobbery that once was confined to food magazines and ladies who lunch, but now is showing up in the unlikeliest of places, like food banks and homeless shelters.
This attitude is not limited to the shelters in our nations capital. A recent meal served at the Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) kitchen in Pacoima, Calif., included pumpkin soup seasoned with browned butter and sage, red-wine barbecue beef on handmade puff pastry, artichoke hearts with meatballs marinara, roasted-garlic-and-turnip mashed potatoes, all topped off with fresh blueberries and sour cream. No wonder these places need a bailout.
What is most worrisome is the counterproductive message Miriams Kitchen is sending to those who donate food: it might get thrown away. No one objects to feeding homeless people healthy and tasty food, and no one wants to return to the Dickensian days of giving the poor gruel laced with bugs. But it is shocking to hear that charities are throwing away perfectly good food at a time when stimulus funds that is, American taxpayers dollars are being used to supplement their food stores.
Millions of Americans are out of jobs, and some are inevitably relying on the occasional trip to the food bank. Should they be advised to stay away from food banks because they give out Velveeta, hot dogs, white bread, and (gasp!) canned vegetables food that doesnt meet some gourmet ideal? Is government supposed to step in to make sure not only that every family has enough to eat, but that what theyre eating is pumpkin soup and mushroom risotto?
The economy is changing the way people shop and eat. Consumers are cutting back on food costs, cooking at home rather than heading out to restaurants, and buying generics over more expensive name-brand products. Sales of pasta are up, presumably because it is cheap and versatile. McDonalds is thriving in this economy the dollar menu has become a real draw. New stars are even cropping up, including 93-year-old YouTube sensation Clara Cannucciari, who reminisces about coming of age during the 1930s and demonstrates some of her mothers Depression-era recipes. Even those glossy food magazines are getting in on the cheap-eats movement, featuring stories on pot pies rather than foie gras. (Isnt it adorable that the editors of these magazines think cutting back means cutting out foie gras and truffles?)
Food banks play an important role in helping those in need. Not only do they provide nourishment, but many also run wonderful programs with a focus on food. One project run out of Washingtons Central Kitchen teaches homeless and unemployed adults how to cook so that they might find work in one of the capitals restaurants.
The staff of Miriams Kitchen should be praised for the work that they do every day to help Washingtons homeless, but they should be careful not to forget their mission: to serve the homeless a good meal. I suspect what warms the hearts of the people waiting in line is less the quality of the risotto and more the promise of a decent meal served by friendly people who want to help them get back on their feet. Turning Miriams Kitchen into a place to get a $30 meal for free misses the mark.
Julie Gunlock, a former congressional staffer, is now a stay-at-home mom.
Wow...they used to say “beggars can’t be choosers” but I guess now the homeless select haute cuisine.
This is so much like the liberal obsession with good intentions. Hungry people don’t care what they get as long as it is satisfying. But I’m sure liberals love to boast about their organic, gourmet charity work. Sounds like FLOTUS’ expensive sneakers fit right in.
If anyone brings us donuts, Steve [the chef] throws them away. . . . It is not good food for our guests. We care too much to give them anything but the best. Steve wants our guests to have the same experience as if they were paying $30 for the meal.
On one hand, I applaud this food bank for thinking enough of the people they serve by trying to avoid serving any old slop. That’s commendable.
On the other hand, the above comments reek of snootiness and elitism. I am aware of several soup kitchens in my area that don’t have a “chef” on premises. Nor do they serve mushroom risotto and pumpkin soup.
I just looked that up. She is great! I'm going to try some of her dishes.
Jeez, and to think I have been forgoing restaurants because I couldn’t afford to eat out. Now I know where to go when my next anniversary rolls around!
What not creme fraiche? They got no coots. Er, I mean, how uncouth.
To go away hungry because the plates were big but the servings were small?
Assuming that the ingredients were proportionately more expensive than you would use in a $3 shelter meal, that means the "chef" would rather feed one needy person trendily than feed ten of them well.
Risotto is very basic and very cheap. You can add spinach or peas instead of mushrooms to keep the price down or for variety. You need some oil, some broth and an onion besides the rice and you can add anything you have around, if you want. It takes time and you can ruin it if you aren’t careful, but it is not expensive in terms of ingredients. I was taught a Northern Italian version with leftover chicken and lots of basil and it will feed a small army and feed them well for little money.
Pumpkin soup is also very basic and pumpkin is cheap, especially fresh, in season. Again, all you need is some oil and an onion, some seasoning and some broth. Some cream is nice, but non-essential. A food processor helps, but you could do it in batches in a blender or even whip the cooked vegetable with a hand mixer. You could use squash, instead. Butternut squash makes a wonderful soup.
These are popular recipes, but they are simple and inexpensive. They take a bit more time than steamed rice or a steamed vegetable. I do not understand why they are considered elitist.
Donuts are portable. They could put them at the door to take with them.
No my FRiend, this is an agenda.
I worked the St. Augustine’s Food Bank in Cleveland. We handed EVERYTHING out. If it was donated, it went. As long as it wasn’t moldy, we either cooked it as an ingredient or gave it away for later.
If these people are truly hungry they will appreciate a snack when the shelter is not open or for a friend on the street they can’t get to come in.
The homeless and hungry care about food, not what is healthy for them.
Trendy. I like today’s morning menu: Scrambled eggs with ground beef & onions, stone-ground grits, toast, garden salad, and fruit salad.
I don't know what they'd do with donuts as it doesn't fit their menu at all. Maybe they could figure out a way to grind some into their pizza dough. They do a very healthy and filling pizza from scratch.
We made boxes to carry out. Anything that wasn’t used was given to those who came in or shared with different churches for the elderly homebound.
Too old or not being able to verify the food is different from throwing away donuts because they are not “healthy”. This is spin. Or maybe the people really aren’t that hungry. When you’re choosing between picking out of a dumpster or a donut, the donut from the soup kitchen doesn’t have extra protein, if you get my drift.
Trust me. I’ve picked out of dumpsters in my life.
Read Breakfast at Sally’s to get the flavor of the leftist entitled twit homeless person.
I actually do not believe the book it true.
If the food is unhealthy, I can understand it. But to throw out healthy food because it’s not upscale enough has no justification.
Wonder what kind of food Joan Rivers’s charity that delivers food to the AIDS patients?? I would LOVE to know!
Donuts are SLOP??? Oh please!
Wake up. Do you think an addict, alcoholic or those that are homeless are thinking of the subleties of risotto?
Take a long walk on your deck, look at the sky and give thanks for what you have.