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The Washington Post

Miriam’s Kitchen affords free breakfast and dinner each weekday


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The meals at Miriam’s Kitchen have a well-recognized rhythm. There are extra diners at dinner than at breakfast, fewer diners general at first of the month than on the finish of the month. That’s due to the distinctive company Miriam’s Kitchen serves: folks experiencing homelessness in Washington, in addition to individuals who have a spot to dwell however can’t at all times afford to purchase meals.

“If somebody has a great spot within the morning, particularly if it’s raining, they don’t wish to lose it,” says Cheryl Bell, the chief chef at Miriam’s Kitchen.

If you happen to’ve been sleeping in a park, on a bench, in a doorway — with all of your belongings close by — chances are you’ll not wish to rouse your self to get to twenty fourth Road and Virginia Avenue NW by 7 a.m. for the hour-long breakfast service at Miriam’s. You may choose to go hungry and wait until dinner is obtainable from 4 p.m. to five p.m.

There are fewer diners at first of the month as a result of that’s when folks obtain their advantages checks, Bell explains. They will afford to purchase their very own meals. These funds dwindle over the course of the month.

“Then within the final two weeks it will get actually heavy,” Bell says.

A latest Friday afternoon finds Bell within the kitchen, on the decrease degree of Western Presbyterian Church. It’s 3:30 p.m., half an hour earlier than the doorways will likely be opened to company, who already are lined up on the sidewalk outdoors. The dinner menu is written on a whiteboard: a selection of rooster coconut curry or vegetarian curry (cauliflower, spinach, peas, chick peas), rice, cabbage, together with salad and apple sauce. Bell stirs a big pot of curry as volunteers from Ernst & Younger chop greens for the salad.

Within the eating room, extra volunteers from the consulting agency are getting directions from Rachel Glassman, the company partnerships officer at Miriam’s Kitchen. A few of the Ernst & Younger volunteers will hand out plastic cutlery, some will take beverage orders (water, juice or espresso), others will stand behind a desk lined in free gloves, socks, thermal underwear and private hygiene kits (toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, deodorant, tissues).

There are additionally condoms and doses of Narcan, the nasal spray that treats an overdose. Guests can decide up their mail and cost their telephones within the eating room.

At 4 p.m. Glassman says, “Let’s get in place.”

The doorways open, and company begin coming down the steps and into the eating room, the place 15 four-person tables are specified by three rows. Every visitor has a numbered ticket of the type you’d discover at a deli counter.

Meg Dominguez, assistant director of social companies, greets the diners. “Good night,” she says. “Welcome to Miriam’s Kitchen. Have a seat.”

Chef Cheryl comes out from the kitchen. “Good night, everybody,” she says earlier than describing the menu.

When Dominguez proclaims the vary of numbers illuminated on a lighted board on the wall — “As much as 870, please … 880 please, 890 please” — company rise from their seats, hand her their tickets and line as much as be served on the kitchen’s counter.

“I’ll take rooster, please,” says the primary visitor.

Dinner is a method for folks in must enter the Miriam’s Kitchen orbit. Some folks will come for meals for years earlier than taking on the group’s supply to match them with a case employee who can discover them housing.

It may be simpler to just accept assist from somebody than from a stranger, and Dominguez greets lots of the diners by title: “Hey Paul! Hey Jeff!”

And so it goes for the following hour, as women and men who’ve been dwelling in parks, in tents, in vehicles come down the steps to eat and calm down. The final consumer comes by the road at 4:55 p.m.

Precisely 140 company have been served, about what Bell predicted, primarily based on the time of the month. Any unserved meals will likely be packaged for folks dwelling in everlasting supportive housing.

At 7 a.m. on Monday, folks will come down the steps for breakfast.

Miriam’s Kitchen, a companion in The Washington Put up Serving to Hand, serves breakfast and dinner each weekday to individuals who want it. It does so much else beside. And you may assist help that work.

To provide on-line to Miriam’s Kitchen, go to posthelpinghand.com and click on the place it says “Donate.” To provide by test, write Miriam’s Kitchen, Attn: Growth, 2401 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20037.

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