Food is Love @ St. Vincent’s

Dining Room at Face to Face
Dining Room at Face to Face

Face to Face, an allied ministry of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, started out as a soup kitchen in 1985. Since then, it has branched out to meet an impressive variety of basic human needs. It provides services such as a nurse-managed Health Center, a Legal Center, a Social Services Center, Children’s Summer Camps, and After School programs. It even offers a “Washeteria,” where people can take a hot shower and receive a set of clean clothes.

Today the original soup kitchen remains, but it has evolved into what Face to Face calls “Our Dining Room.” As you might expect, the Dining Room serves hot, nourishing food. But, it is so much more than a place to get a hot meal. It is a gathering place where people can sit, relax, read, enjoy coffee and socialize while they wait for the meal. Indeed, although meals are not served until 12:45 P.M., doors open at 9 A.M.

[W]orking in a soup kitchen is about learning: learning the ingredients, learning the environment, learning the people, and learning what the people love.

Germantown Beat recently posted an article about Altenor “Al” Vaval, the chef responsible for preparing the meals at the Dining Room. Regular guests of the Dining Room adore Al, for he takes the time to get to know the people and learn what they love to eat. He also strives to make sure that all the meals he prepares are both tasty and nutritious, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. Al even started a garden behind Face to Face to grow fresh herbs and vegetables for the kitchen during the summer months. In the future, he plans a special Children’s Garden where kids can connect with nature and grow their own vegetables.

Face to Face has a motto: “Hospitality, Mutuality, and Transformation.” Many guests of the Dining Room say that Al embodies these ideals. For Al, sharing a meal brings people together. It provides an occasion for people to share stories and maybe even provide mutual support. It builds personal connections and fosters relationships. And, as a result, lives are often transformed. Indeed, the relationships formed in the Dining Room very often lead guests to Face to Face’s other programs.

Here’s a link to the article.

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