Cooking for Community
One of my favorite things about being involved in Greek life is the many ways to give back to the community. So, when an opportunity came for me help organize a dinner with my sisters at a local church, of course I made a beeline to sign up!
For this event, we partnered with Hanover Community Kitchen, a student-led organization on campus. Our task at hand: plan, supply, cook, and serve dinner at a community church for local elderly residents, indigent populations, and families of patients in long-term care at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. I've always considered cooking to be my love language and to do so with my sorority sisters was something I felt really excited and grateful for.
After choosing the menu (a delectable spinach lasagna, fruit salad, and finger-licking cheesecake bars) our small but mighty group of 7 delegated roles amongst ourselves. I, for one, was in charge of getting the groceries. That morning, I hopped on the bus to West Lebanon and headed to Price Chopper, the largest supermarket closest to Hanover. Sometimes when I don't have class, I like to take the 40-minute bus ride to West Lebanon. We pride ourselves in Hanover being a small town but there are also times when I need a much-needed escape downtown. Buses in Hanover are also free and run every weekday from 6 am to 6 pm, making it easily accessible for college students and local residents.
As much as I love cooking for my family and friends, I've never planned nor budgeted for a group of over 20 people. So, once I walked past the sliding doors into Price Chopper, I grabbed the largest shopping cart I could find, secured my hold on its handle with one hand, and held out my grocery list in another. It took me roughly 2 hours of jumping back and forth from one aisle to another, making quick decisions on substitutes for ingredients I couldn't find, and double, triple, and quadruple checking my grocery list before my grocery trip came to an end.
Later that day at 4 pm, my sisters and I drove to Our Savior Lutheran Church which is about 5 minutes away from the Dartmouth Green. Once we settled in (and put our masks on!), Sarah, one of my lovely sisters, and I were put in charge of washing the fruits for the fruit salad. On the other side of the kitchen, the pasta was cooking in a huge stockpot for the lasagna and the vegetables for a last-minute garden salad were being washed and cut. Laughing through our mistakes and hyping each other up, our group of 7 successfully whipped out 2 large trays of spinach lasagna, an extra-large bowl of garden salad, and an extra, extra large bowl of fruit salad. Another sister had saved us time by making the cheesecake bars herself and altogether, we were all set for a delightful dinner!
Soon, our guests started coming in and take-away orders arrived. For those who were able to be there in-person, we all sat together around a large table and enjoyed a light conversation as we dined. Given the pandemic, I haven't had many opportunities yet to get to know Upper Valley residents so it was definitely a pleasure for me to talk to and get to know those who joined us. My favorite part of the evening, though, was seeing the food we had made empty out and our hearts feeling so full knowing we were able to spread a few smiles and laughter around, amongst ourselves as well. This will definitely not be my last time cooking at the church and come other opportunities for service activities, I'll be making a beeline to sign up again!