Positive Community Kitchen delivers free, healthy food to people with cancer or other ills
By Sherri Buri McDonald
View original Register-Guard article here
Late last month, Judy Beleke and her husband Hank sat down to their first meal from Positive Community Kitchen, a Eugene nonprofit agency that delivers free, healthy meals to people with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.
Beleke, who will turn 77 on Christmas Day, was treated for ovarian cancer three years ago. The cancer returned last summer and has traveled to her liver. She also suffers from fibromyalgia.
“I felt like I was at the Valley River Inn Thanksgiving buffet,” she said of the meal.
“Each container said ‘lovingly prepared for Judy.’ I put it all out. I didn’t even watch the news like I normally would. I wanted to enjoy every mouthful, every bite. I poured a little glass of wine and put on beautiful music and had this experience of realizing, this is grace. Somebody heard me in my plight.
“It’s like the universe speaking: Here, my child, is your gift for your plight. Here is your reward.”
The reward is shared by everyone connected with this fledgling grass-roots group, say its clients and volunteers.
Positive Community Kitchen is modeled after the Ceres Project in Sonoma, Calif. The kitchen started cooking for clients about a year ago, said Wendy Strgar, a local entrepreneur and founding board member. It delivers weekly meals to about 30 people in 15 families in the Eugene-Springfield area.
That is possible only with help from lots of volunteers. About 20 adult volunteers raise money, organize donations of food ingredients, plan menus, deliver the meals and supervise a group of about 20 teenager volunteers. These volunteers are learning about nutrition and healthy eating while learning how to cook every Monday evening in the incubator kitchen at Hummingbird Wholesale’s Stellaria building in Eugene.
The kitchen is gluten-free, so everything the volunteers prepare is gluten-free. The meals focus on whole, rather than processed foods, and organic and locally grown ingredients.
Positive Community Kitchen recently launched an online effort to raise $25,000. “Our goal is to double our output for 2015,” Strgar said.
The meals arrived at just the right time for former client Marites Price, her husband and their two boys. Price was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2013. She had a lumpectomy and chemotherapy and was just finishing radiation treatment in January, when her family started receiving meals from Positive Community Kitchen.