Written by  ,     September 1, 2012     Posted in Business, Fun

As community focused restaurant owners–and capable business people–we have been donating money, time, ideas and oh so many gift certificates for  the nearly 20 years that we have been doing business in dowtown Lowell.  It generally feels good, it’s usually the right thing, and it is almost always good business.  Along the way, Kathy and I have developed a special affinity for The Lowell Boys and Girls Club, and as such, have donated “extra” of all of the above, on all of our behalves.

But just recently, an incredible opportunity was presented.  The LBGC was awarded federal funding to begin offering a dinner for “roughly 150 Club Kids”, before they head home each evening.  Of course, what do the fine folks who run the club know about serving 150 daily meals.  In fact, a good many restaurant owners don’t even know how to  serve 150 meals a day!  So, we offerred to help.  In fact, beyond helping, my team got excited about writing menus that eliminated a typical “canned peaches” old school-government approach to feeding folks.  How awesome would it be if we could execute fresh food?! (For under $3/kid per day)  What if we could use local products?!  What if we could design a menu that got the kids to eat whole grain, and fresh fruit…and all of their vegetables!  (Baby steps…)  What if we could get the kids to know their food, and care about it.  What if we could do some growing…some canning and preserving…what if?!

So anyway, we are underway!  To earn their trust–you know kids–we served cheeseburgers on day one (on whole grain rolls)  There are few things that “break the ice” better than burgers and ketchup.  (How much fun would the kids have MAKING ketchup?!)

On day two: Roasted chicken, local corn on the cobb, freshly peeled oranges and roasted red potatoes. Tacos and local watermelon on day three!!

Writing out gift certificates feels ok.  We know it helps–every little bit helps.  But there is no way to describe the feeling, when after the first day, standing with a handful of my cooks who had volunteered their time (we have staff-volunteers signed up for everyday), one excited young girl ran up to us and blurted to Chef Rob Jean; “Hey, you ‘da chef? Yo, dat food was bomb!”  (That means she liked it, btw)

The biggest problem we have had so far?  Beyond meeting cost budget and getting kids to eat their vegetables?  Crowd control! As the kids try to jam into the kitchen asking how they can help get the food prepared.  Great stuff.

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