Author: Stephanie Y., C08
Last Monday, I had the privilege of bringing a group of ten Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia members to volunteer at MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) to help prepare meals for their clients. Each month, MANNA prepares and home-delivers more than 70,000 nutritious meals to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS, cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. MANNA’s small professional staff and 1,500 dedicated volunteers deliver medically appropriate nutrition to their clients – 3 meals a day, 7 days a week – at no charge. The MANNA group volunteer coordinator scheduled us for 5:00-8:00PM, but I told him it was likely our group would arrive closer to 5:30PM since our volunteers would be coming straight from work. However, at 5:00PM, the large majority of our group was already in the kitchen, hands washed, aprons and hairnets on, and ready to chop! Now that’s Penn initiative and dedication!
Our group was split into two: meat and non-meat. The meat group put together Canadian bacon and egg breakfast sandwiches conveyor belt style. The non-meat group chopped green bell peppers for two hours. Which group would have you chosen? I was in the breakfast sandwich group, even though I would choose to eat a bell pepper over a breakfast sandwich any day. Non-vegetarian veggie lovers unite! Anyway, back to the breakfast sandwich conveyor belt. The first person in line made the breakfast sandwich: one piece of Canadian bacon and one egg patty in between two pieces of bread. The second person put the breakfast sandwich into a Ziploc bag and sealed the bag. The last person placed a sticker on the bag. The sticker said something like “Canadian bacon and egg sandwich” – makes sense. We had both sides of the table putting together and packaging the breakfast sandwiches, and we ended up with hundreds of breakfast sandwiches ready to deliver! We ran out of Canadian bacon for the last two breakfast sandwiches, so those labels read “Egg sandwich” with the “Canadian bacon and” part crossed out. I hope the two clients who receive those sandwiches are not terribly disappointed.
After the breakfast sandwiches, the meat group did a variety of tasks. First, we packaged dinner rolls (two per Ziploc bag). Then, we opened grocery bags and stuffed them inside each other for the next day’s delivery (you know how grocery bags are tough to open when they’re brand new and stuck together? That’s why we opened them, so the next day’s volunteers would have an easier time organizing the delivery bags). Last, we opened packaged stuffing and poured the stuffing into cardboard boxes and the seasonings into plastic containers.