Sunday, March 9, 2008

Can She Do It? Yes, She Can!

smart and final

In NJ I helped with the Inter-religious Fellowship for the Homeless dinner at my Former Awesome Church. In Bergen County, New Jersey a partnership of many churches and temples of all different faiths joins together to feed and shelter homeless men and women who are in a transition program. Most are working. By staying in church/temple program they are able to save money for a deposit and first months rent on an apartment.

Every Tuesday in October we hosted about 12 people for dinner and then they also slept over in the church. In the morning they were picked up and taken to jobs or job training classes and other programs at a main shelter. I really enjoyed being involved in this innovative program.

In November I had an encounter with a young homeless boy. There are thousands of homeless teens in Hollywood. Anyway, this particular boy kind of got to me and I vowed to get involved again with this issue. I agreed to co-coordinate this month's dinner for PATH Homeless Shelter here in Hollywood. My Awesome Church sponsors a dinner there three times a year. My jobs were to grocery shop and to supervise the cooking. Other volunteers would transport the food and serve at the shelter.

The budget for homeless missions at my church is shrinking rapidly. Our weekly Tuesday feedings have expanded over the last few months from about 100 people to upwards of 140+. The increase is becoming a financial problem. So, I was charged with making a cheap meal for about 75 people. Yikes!

I have been reading Like Merchant Ships and Frugal Hacks for a few months now and trying my best to internalize the frugal mind set. I think it paid off. While I cruised the aisles of Smart and Final (a smaller non-membership Costco knock off) I thought to myself "WWMD?" What would Meredith do?

I think I did a pretty good job. I bought supplies for baked ziti, salad, brownies and lemon aide. I used ground turkey in the meat sauce to save money. We bought enough for 100 people so that there would be plenty of extra for seconds.

The manager of Smart and Final was super nice and gave me a ten percent discount. I met Teo last week when my class entered a coloring contest at the store. He had called to say that he had some candy for my class. It turned out to be five *huge* cases of Valentines candy. My hatchback was completely filled to the top with Nerds, Sweet Tart Hearts and Fun Dip. Teo also said he would call me again after the "holiday of the bunnies" to get more left over candy.

I passed on some of the candy to my church. We made a big basket of candy to take to PATH.

My grand total at Smart and Final was $73.04! I then spent another ten dollars on bread to make garlic bread, a dozen eggs, and some oil.

We were able to use paper plates, utensils, napkins, butter and spices that the church had on hand. There was also a big drum of ice cream left over from another function that was used to make brownie a la mode. Those items would have added a lot to the bill.

My partner bought a few extra things as well, but in the end, we came in around $100! I think it was a pretty nice meal for a dollar a person! To think back in November when I met that homeless boy outside of Ralph's, I spent $1.25 on an apple and some Gatoraide.


Sandy said...

Awesome job! I just love Meredith - and WWMD? LOL.
You could always try my Mango Chicken - with the fixin's! It's pretty cost effective (for next time).
Blessings. Sandy

TJ said...

Wonderful work! I remember planning a budget meal for a formal party when I worked at Camp Fire. The total is long lost, but phew it was a lot of work. I did get lucky on some of the items, like a huge meat sale that had pork loin at 99 cents a pound. It was so much work, but the kids and their parents had a blast, and it was worth it!

Stephanie Kay said...

WOW! Impressive savings and a great cause!

Ann @TheAssetEdge said...

Good for you!!! Serving the community is such a big part of faith - I'm glad your church invests in serving others. And good for you, for using your skills & talents to make it work!

Martha A. said...

Good job! I don't know if you can get bags of chicken hindquarters there cheaply. What if you made one with baked chicken hindquarters, Rice pilaf, salad and crazy cake with homemade icing.
If you can get 10 lbs of chicken for $6.90 or cheaper. I think if you figure 1/3 lb-1/2 lb uncooked chicken per person so then each bag would serve 20-30 people. 5 bags would be about $30, rice pilaf costs almost nothing to make alot! Use garlic, onion, chicken broth and spices to make it. Salad- lettuce, you can make a big enough salad for under $10 usually. Cake is cheap as it has no eggs in it and taste good!
Just another idea!

Anonymous said...

Why aren't people like you and your churdch on the news at all. We see all the bad going on but your small, bright gesture goes unoticed by so many. But I bet there are about 75 people in Hollywood who will remember you all.

Rebecca said...

Jane, that's amazing! And as I was reading it and you mentioned a low cost meal to feed many I thought of ziti. :) It works wonders for the grocery bill and is comfort food at it's best. I know the dinner will be so important to every visitor.

Living in New York City I see so many homeless and never know what to do. You've inspired me to look into that!