Interview with our Volunteers - "Moveable Feast Throughout the Years"

Ruth, Joyce, and Jeanne have been volunteering at Moveable Feast for years; Ruth for eleven, and Jeanne and Joyce for eight. Today, they are sharing their experiences.

So how did you find out about Moveable Feast? What continues to bring you here to volunteer your time?

Ruth: I found Moveable Feast through the local paper eleven years ago. I like food, I like being around food, I’m generally a food person, so I figured I would enjoy spending some of my extra time around food. I had been helping my daughter with her kids, but then the kids went back to school, so I had a great deal of extra time. And another thing that brings me to Moveable Feast is the people. Everyone is so nice and welcoming here. I met Jeanne and Joyce and we have been volunteering together for years. I really enjoy spending time here. And it’s very fulfilling to get thank-yous from the people we help, and to know that they are grateful. It’s great to help people that are going through such difficult times. 

How did you guys start volunteering? What got you interested? 

Joyce: You know, I volunteer at Moveable Feast because when I was growing up, there were always people that didn’t have food. And my grandmother and mother would always go out there and help them out.

Jeanne: My family was in the food business. You know, grocery stores and markets. Even the men were very involved with food. All the men in my family, all they could talk about was food. So I was always interested in food.

So what do you do on a typical day volunteering here?

Jeanne: We pack the food. We don’t get a great deal of contact with the people that we serve. Sometimes we work in the kitchen preparing the food, you know, cutting and cooking. But mostly we pack the food into the containers that are delivered to the homes. We use the machine that plastic-wraps the containers with an airtight seal. 

Joyce: Yeah, we used to do it all by hand though. We didn’t get that machine until about two, two-and-a-half years ago. Until then, all the food packaging was done one-by-one. The containers were like Tupperware, with the lids that click on.

Jeanne: Yes, the machine has definitely increased the amount of food we can package and serve. I think we got it from St. Benedict’s, originally. 

Jeanne and Ruth have been volunteering at Moveable Feast for so long that they have seen the transition of the organization through many different locations.

Jeanne: We used to be back at The Haussner’s Restaurant, which is kind of like a Baltimore landmark, a very popular restaurant back in the day. When it shut down, Haussner’s was given to the Culinary Institute, who did not have a use for it at the time, so it was rented out to Moveable Feast. It was a very large space but was not good to work in. The equipment was very old and the ceiling was so leaky!

Joyce: Yeah, you guys had to pick your way around the buckets to catch the dripping water!

Jeanne: Then we moved to St. Benedict’s, which was kind of like a cafeteria-style kitchen in an old basement. It was very small. Finally we moved to 901 N. Milton Ave, which is a great location!

What other changes have you guys appreciated?

The best part is the chef, Damon. You can tell that with him, the quality of the food is much finer. We make so many more things from scratch than we did before. Before, many of the foods contained a number of processed things – now, most of it is from scratch.

Jeanne: And the appearance of the food is so much better with him. It just LOOKS tastier! He uses more seasoning and spices than ever before.

Jeanne: Here’s another great thing about Damon – he is so approachable. Basically, I have this garden in my neighborhood. And everyone in the surrounding houses comes and tends to this garden, where we grow produce and herbs. And I could not determine what a particular herb was, and Damon graciously said he would take a look at it. 


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