Healing Meals Community Project, a comparatively new organization that provides meals to families with a member suffering from a serious illness such as cancer, is off to an impressive start.
Instrumental in that success is Michele Beaule of Stratford Road, a member of the organization’s board of directors who is charged with raising all the revenue for a program that delivered 5,000 meals in its first 10 months last year.
“My primary job is to raise all the revenue the organization needs to meet its goals,” Beaule says. “This year we are looking to raise $175,000.” Healing Meals is looking to raise that money from individuals, foundations and businesses.
“You need to eat well, and you need to eat well no matter what time of the year it is, but it is really, really important when you are suffering a health crisis,” she says.
Recognizing that when a family member is seriously ill the rest of the family may not have time to prepare healthy meals, the organization provides meals not just to the person who is ill, but the entire family. Meals are delivered right to the door and there is no charge
Meals are prepared weekly by some 70 youth volunteers between the ages of 14 and 24, using kitchen facilities at the New England Pasta Shop in Avon.
As they prepare gluten-free, sugar-free, organic meals, Beaule says the young people come to understand how important food choices can be.
Moreover, “They learn how to cook, they gain leadership skills, and they also learn the satisfaction of supporting a neighbor in need,” she says. Her daughter, Jacqueline, 15, is among the volunteers. The Beaule family also has three younger daughters, Madeleine, 13, Evelyne, 11, and Vivianne, 8.
Youths must commit for three months, so they truly learn what it is like to give back to the community. In the central kitchen they make dishes such as turkey white bean pumpkin chili, balsamic-glazed salmon, coconut brown rice, and curried carrot fries. Once a week, the member of the household suffering with a disease also receives a quart of immune broth, an entirely vegetable- and herb-based broth teeming with nutrients and made by the youth volunteers. Sometimes recipients are so sick they are not able to hold down anything more than the broth.
The program distributes meals throughout the Hartford area. In 2016, it provided 5,000 meals to 42 families in 14 cities and towns.
The Hartford area program is the 9th affiliate of the 10-year-old Ceres Community Project, based in California. “We are looking to open another location in New Haven,” Beaule says.
The organization welcomes additional volunteers, hoping to increase the number of meals served to 10,000 this year. The need is unquestionably there, Beaule says.
Everyone wants to help in the kitchen, she says, but she’s decided she can best help the organization by raising the money to keep it going and growing. As a stay-at-home mom, “this is a great way to keep that intellectual candle lit and at the same time be a role model to my children,” she says.