During our most recent trip to Haiti (May 2013), Tom and Doug brought the ingredients for a traditional New Orleans gumbo to St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children. Students and residents of all ages joined the pair in St. Vincent's kitchen prepping chicken, sausage and okra for a dish completely foreign to the kids—one they had never tasted or even heard of. (40 lbs of rice and 35 lbs of meat make for some serious gumbo!) As the gumbo's boil roared, students looked on inquisitively wondering if the rice would be mixed in with the gumbo and, in true Haitian form, speculating if there were enough spices in it!
Following 4+ hours in the kitchen where temperatures soared to well over 100 degrees F, the gumbo was ready. Thinking their work was complete and they could escape to the cooler air outdoors, Tom and Doug realized they still had to serve 70+ hungry residents, far more than originally anticipated.
Again, the students came to his aide and an assembly line quickly formed. First, the bowls were filled with a heap of rice. Second, each was smothered in piping hot gumbo and sprinkled with filé. Lastly, sliced baguette and butter dollops were added to complete the dish. The finishing touch: ice-cold Tang® and a bit of candy for everyone.
Outside the kitchen, a long line of hungry residents had already formed. Within minutes of being served, the bowls were emptied and the residents returned for more until every bit was devoured.
The old saying, "too many cooks in the kitchen" was given a new meaning during the gumbo cookout. We welcomed each and every helper and were grateful for their assistance in preparing the meal. Every chef was instrumental in the meal's success!
One of our many goals is to help St. Vincent's become self-sustainable so there is sufficient food for everyone all the time. Currently, staff and students receive beans and rice twice a day; on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays they receive a third portion. This reinforces our efforts to explore sustainable farming initiatives so no student is hungry again.
In the meantime, we will continue to provide meals throughout the year thanks to your generous support.
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