Homemade with love for COVID-19 response
LCO, March 2020
Lighthouse Center Oregon (LCO) volunteers are wholeheartedly responding to the opportunity to serve those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The commercial kitchen at the Lighthouse Center Bakery (LCB) has been transformed into a hive of charity activity. Four teams of LCO volunteers are working harmoniously to prepare, bake, cook, package and distribute the food to the local charity network we have partnered with.
Food safety and hygiene
A top priority is to maintain our high standards for food safety and personal hygiene according to the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the health department. Our social distancing officer screens each LCO volunteer before they can come in for duty each day. We sanitize the food prep and cooktop surfaces regularly, and our quality assurance procedures ensure that our food items leave the LCB kitchen and arrive at the destination in tip top shape.
On Sunday, the baking team starts to mix and prepare the bread dough, and then they leave it to rise slowly overnight. The next day the bread loaves are shaped and then baked in our wood-fired brick oven. The freshly baked, hot loaves are left to cool before we carefully package each loaf. Meanwhile the team starts to mix and prepare the dough for the next day.
Our seasoned bakers cheerfully keep this routine from Sunday to Wednesday. In the first week of April, we baked 500 loaves of 2-lb family-sized artisan bread. We hope to keep churning out at least this many loaves each week.
Usually when one thinks of food donations, the basics like bread, milk, beans and rice come to mind. We figured it’s nice to share something sweet to help put a smile on people’s faces. So we decided to make desserts and wrap them individually before sending them out. We try to vary these desserts as we go. For example, one day our crew took extra care to specially shape the cookie dough into heart-shaped almond cookies. We also make monkey bars and chocolate chip cookies. In the first week of our charity operations, 350 individually wrapped desserts, homemade with love, were sent out.
Four times a week, our food prep and cook team make two types of wholesome organic soup. One is a lentil vegetable stew which is a staple at the bakery. The other is a vegetable bean soup featuring pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, or whatever is available in our pantry. The soups are packed with lots of organic veggies and we try to use as much fresh produce from LCO’s organic greenhouse as possible.
We ladle the cooked soup into pint-sized containers that are put into the chiller to freeze overnight before they are delivered the next day. In our first week we delivered 252 pint-sized containers of frozen soup to our network of charity partners. That was a good start! We hope to make more, perhaps up to 50 gallons or 400 pint-sized containers of soup each week!
So much joy …
We are so happy to be given this opportunity to serve our community and partner with the local charities. Our hearts are very much in this special project and helping in this way brings us a lot of joy!