News & Views

Writings from AmpleHarvest.org
26
Sep

Here’s why people experiencing homelessness are eating a better breakfast than you are.

John Murphy

John Murphy, Chef and Director of Kitchen Operations at Miriam’s Kitchen, Washington, DC

Here’s why people experiencing homelessness are eating better breakfast than you are…

What do most of you eat for breakfast? I know for me it’s typically a bowl of cereal or its adulterated version the breakfast bar… if that. But I think I can safely say it isn’t going to be a five course meal complete with fresh vegetables. Miriam’s Kitchen is doing just that with donations from a coalition of partners, such as farmers and growers that utilize AmpleHarvest.org. Just last week, using peppers and peaches from a regional farm, we made hand cracked egg omelets and whole wheat pancakes. The vibrant colors of lush-yellow and hues of pink pouring over spring-fluffy pancakes made me think of home, and our guests of dignity.

Plates Miriam's Kitchen2

Hunger relief can be better than a dented can, like at Miriam’s Kitchen in DC

Four years ago I realized how Miriam’s was using food as a vehicle to create belonging and display dignity to guests with years of chronic trauma. I was impressed enough to leave the professional restaurant industry after almost a decade to help run Miriam’s evening program. But why should our meals be so elaborate? As I like to say, if you’re serving a dented can, your guests are going to feel like a dented can. We are creating promise and not just a product.We know this works; good food brings people to the table, and once at the table they find the community they desire. In many cases, that help can mean the difference between life and death.

Food insecurity is a pervasive issue faced by many communities across the country.  America’s latest food waste statistic shows we throw away more than a quarter of all consumable food. From New York to Los Angeles, from Chicago to Florida, agencies are being asked to do more for their guests than ever before. We need new and innovative ways of meeting these necessary requests.  AmpleHarvest.org provides a method for local growers and farmers to find a place to use their food for change and nourishment rather than the bottom of a landfill. I just don’t think they know just how far that nourishment truly goes.

Plates Miriam's Kitchen1

One of our guests came up to me the other day and told me that it was because of the food that he came to Miriam’s, but it was the community that made him stay. But he didn’t “stay”, he found strength to go back to school and, I’m pleased to say, graduated with honors from a local trade school! He’s currently finding a job and looking forward to a more stable life.  All because he came, sat at our table, and enjoyed fresh peaches and homemade pancakes.

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Celebrating 30 years of service, Miriam’s Kitchen is committed to ending chronic homelessness in Washington, D.C. by creating meaningful connections with displaced individuals, connecting them with permanent housing and ensuring they have the necessary support to remain in housing. Miriam’s Kitchen meets our guests’ immediate needs by providing healthy meals and high-quality social services to more than 5,000 homeless individuals each year, while advocating for permanent supportive housing as a long-term solution.

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AmpleHarvest.org, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization (EIN #27-2433274).
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