Week 8 wrap-up!

After being very lazy for the past few weeks, this week I made 55 meals! Some new recipients–a doctor I know requested some meals for his staff, a fire department, some requests I received (my policy is “no questions asked [except dietary restrictions]”. If someone reaches out and requests food, whether for self or others, I just give them the meals and assume they’re genuinely in need).

I’m starting a full-time job soon–probably next week–but still have about 25-30 meals worth of funding left. I plan to use the rest of it by end of next week. Sad to see this project coming to a close! It has been so inspiring and fun. Thanks for being part of this adventure!

Week…8?

Hi everyone-

Sorry about the lack of updates recently. I’ve been pretty stressed out and depressed lately, which has made it hard to focus or have motivation to do anything. So things were on a bit of a hiatus, but now I’m cooking again! I had planned to use my remaining funding this week, but meals are coming in under budget, so I think actually next week will be the last week of Jane’s Kitchen (assuming things don’t start getting worse again).

I think last week I didn’t cook at all, but this week the kitchen’s running every day.  Pediatricians at Nationwide Children’s Hospital yesterday, organ donation staff at LifeLine of Ohio today, police tomorrow, and more medical staff Friday.

Almost 250 meals donated! Thanks everyone for support and encouragement.

Weeks 5 & 6 updates!

Sorry about lack of updates the past week! Everything is going well, but has slowed down. Still cooking a few times a week between job-hunting though!

We are at 188 meals donated, so should pass 200 next week! And I have $250 of donations left, which should cover about 80 meals.

Next week I think I’d like to take a break from applying for jobs and do some more cooking!

Week 4 wrap-up: lots of good news!

Well, last week everything was hitting the fan, but this week was wonderful.

Congrats

Residents at Nationwide Children’s Hospital made sent me a picture of meals I made with an adorable poster they made me!! 😭😭

Announcements:

First off, a lot of you have probably already heard but I found out yesterday that I passed the Ohio bar exam! So pretty soon I will be a licensed attorney.

This does not affect Jane’s Kitchen operations. I plan to keep cooking for a few more weeks.

Things seem to be looking up here in Ohio, and we are slowly moving toward reopening. For that reason I am suspending donations, though this is subject to change. Right now I have about $370 leftover, enough to cover costs of meals for 2-3 weeks. This should be enough time to see how quickly/successfully our communities can return to normalcy and decide what the next steps are for Jane’s Kitchen.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking for lawyering jobs between cooking; wish me luck!

Updates:

Total of 60 meals donated this week! Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Worthington Police, LifeLine of Ohio, and a janitor’s support group I found online that requested a few meals. Keeping things small for the next few weeks so I probably won’t be reaching out to new groups.

Learned a new recipe last week, got obsessed, and made it for everyone this week! Chicken marsala, which is so delish! I think for next week I will pick another recipe and make it for everyone. Much easier as far as shopping/supplies/planning goes.

I have used up all of the original box of 150 meal containers I bought when starting this whole project (including the 14 boxes from the first batch of meals that were returned to me before I realized that collecting, cleaning, and sanitizing boxes was way too much work for everyone involved). What a strange feeling! Will have to get new boxes for next week.

Now that all those boxes have been used, I’m able to provide an average cost/meal for those 164 meals–my spreadsheet says each meal cost $3.18. I think I had originally estimated that every $10 donated would cover the costs of 3-4 meals, so that’s right in the zone!

That’s it for this week! Thanks everyone for supporting, encouraging, and helping me on this!

Week 3 wrap-up

This week started a bit rough, but ended nicely! Yesterday I made a meals for 2 teams at LifeLine of Ohio, and today I cooked for a team of residents at OSU Wexner.

WE PASSED 100 MEALS TODAY!!! I had hoped to hit this milestone a bit earlier, but given all the unexpected obstacles, I’m very happy with how we’re doing.

I’m glad I’ve been keeping track of all my ingredients and meals donated in my fancy spreadsheet! I started it for accountability/transparency but it has been super helpful in making sure I use all my ingredients (or trade them with my roommates or my personal food when stuff is nearing the end of its usable life), and for making sure people don’t get sick of eating the same meals.

Today I decided to try a new recipe! And it turned out delicious, but I think proportions were a bit off. I made Chicken Marsala for the first time, and my gosh it turned out almost perfectly. Next time–remember that the “suggested serving size” on pasta boxes is LIES.  Double the pasta. Also double the sauce. More sauce. Marsala sauce is AMAZING, and not terribly difficult! I’m really excited to add this to my repertoire, definitely going to make it again next week.

Week 3–mostly bad news

Lots to update about–mostly bad news, unfortunately.

Last week, I spent a lot of time trying to find a commercial kitchen to cook in, since I’ve been wanting to expand. However, I’ve learned that anyone that would be willing to let me cook in their kitchen would be accepting a lot of risk–legal liability and loss of licensing if someone got sick from my cooking. Generally, food given away for free is unregulated and individual donors are covered by a Good Samaritan rule, so I’m fine (legally) as long as I’m not “grossly negligent.” Since I’ve been really careful about making sure food is prepared safely AND about sanitizing to prevent COVID spread, I’m actually not worried about this at all. It just means I’m not going to be able to expand any further than my own kitchen. Over all, not that bad–I prepped over 70 meals last week here without too much trouble!

Ok, so more bad news! My house is dealing with some plumbing issues. Not super surprising, since most of the building is over 100 years old. Tried all day yesterday to diagnose and fix myself, but no luck. Should be resolved soon (we’ll call our landlord and/or a plumber today), but even if it isn’t, I can still cook. It’ll just take longer to clean up after each meal-prep session.

Hopefully you didn’t think that was it, because…more bad news! I went camping over the weekend to relax a bit. Got a strange bug bite that has swollen, reddened, and become very very painful over the past few days. It’s in an awkward spot on my chest where it hurts when I stand, stretch, raise my arms…it sucks and has been slowing me down a lot. But was able to talk to a doctor today fewer than 20 minutes after calling to set up an appointment–telehealth is pretty cool! She was chilling in her living room “office” with her cat that occasionally popped into the video. Now I’m on a course of antibiotics, so that should be clearing up soon.

This week, I’ve only got requests for 11 meals (so far) and those aren’t until the weekend. So I should be ok for those! Hopefully everything will be a bit more normal (as far as my house and body go) by next week and I can get back up to 70 meals next week.

Another bit of a update–I still have about $400 of unspent funding. I’m still accepting monetary donations for now, but may suspend those in the near future. It’s starting to look like this crisis may begin winding down soon. I plan to spend all the funding that remains to continue sending meals to frontline workers, but if the organizations I’ve been feeding stop accepting donated meals when this crisis passes, my plan’s to donate any leftover funds to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank so they can use them to feed those who need it most.

Hope everyone is staying safe and having a better week than I am!

Love, Jane

Week 2, update 2 (Wed 4/15)

93124193_684660108767459_2677197306025261274_nCooked 32 meals today for pediatric residents at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, including vegan and gluten-free options. That puts us at 58 meals donated this week!

Things are pretty busy–working with some people to secure a commercial cooking facility, as well as reaching out to more recipient organizations. I’ve only got 10 meals scheduled for the rest of this week (OSU Wexner NICU), but hopefully next week I’ll get closer to my goal of 100 meals/week.

Hope everyone is happy and healthy–thanks all again for the support!!

Your donation dollars at work!

Week 2, update 1 (Tuesday 4/14)

Hi all- hope everyone had a lovely Easter dinner!

wexner

OSU Wexner Medical Center enjoying some teriyaki chicken, green beans, and veggie fried rice

 

Yesterday I cooked a total of 26 meals–lunch for a police department AND dinner for some residents at OSU Wexner. Amazingly, my average cost/meal is even lower than last week. I also gave up on the idea of getting my plastic containers back. Probably safer and more convenient to just use them as single-use. No worries–I’ve been adding those into my costs as single-use, since I haven’t reused any yet, and average cost/meal is still way lower than I’d originally anticipated. Time to make bigger portions, I guess!

I took a look at a commercial cooking space that might be available for me to use, and I got a call from a local church that has a large-capacity kitchen. Upgrade is imminent!

Got a few calls from some folks over at Mid-Ohio Food Bank yesterday–not sure about how they found out about my cooking, but they offered ingredient donations to use. For now though, I plan on using funds y’all have donated, since they have lots of mouths to feed. They also said they have a pretty large and consistent need for cooked meals, but can only accept cooked meals that are prepared in a licensed kitchen. Trying to find more info about that, and seeing if either of the kitchens that’s been offered to me would meet their requirements.

Tomorrow’s a busy one–sending 30 meals over to OSU Wexner! It’ll be my biggest delivery to date, and probably one that will repeat weekly. Not sure what I’m cooking yet but they have a handful of vegetarians and a few gluten-free, so…potatoes will be involved.

 

Day 2- Friday April 10

Hi all! No deliveries today, I’ve been working on strategy and outreach to prepare for next week.

Yesterday was pretty successful and I am thrilled with how everything turned out–Chief Ware from Worthington PD even gave me a call today to say thanks, which was so nice of him!

I’m not going to lie–I started this campaign with the primary goal of productively alleviating my boredom. But literally every single time I log in to social media, email, or pick up my phone, I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Working on Jane’s Kitchen has made me the happiest I’ve felt in years. Everything is going really well–in fact, honestly better than I could have imagined. Not only have I been pleasantly surprised at the generosity of my community, but also at my own cooking abilities! Based on how yesterday’s meals went, each meal costs under $3.00 which means I currently have enough funding for 170+ more meals! And I’ve already got some commitments for future donations, including some generous individuals who have pledged recurring donations.

Anyway…progress report!

Today I reached out to a personal friend whom I remembered has worked on charity initiatives with local fire departments. He agreed to contact a few stations and vouch for me (and my cooking!), so next week I should be able to add some fire stations to the delivery list!

I also asked my dad, who works (from home right now) for Grant Medical Center to see if he can put me in touch with whoever’s in charge of hungry people there.

One of my friends from college who works at OSU Wexner Medical Center asked if I could bring some meals for her team, so I’ve got some dinners to make for them on Monday. I also scheduled with Worthington PD to bring them some lunches on Monday.

I learned yesterday that my kitchen is just a tad too small to conveniently prep dozens of meals at a time, so I contacted some local churches to see if any of them have large kitchens I might be able to use. Had to leave messages/email, so probably won’t hear back until next week. I’d like to be able to move 30 meals a day, but yesterday I was only able to hit half of that due to limited stove/oven/counter space.

More lessons/ideas/thoughts from yesterday: getting Steramine tablets from Wasserstrom for easy sanitizing of containers and utensils; using washi tape to seal and label meals with info for dietary needs, date/time of prep, and spice level; and cooking smaller batches of different things instead of huge batches of the same thing so each delivery can have some mix-and-matched variety in terms of mains and sides.

I’m also working on updating and improving my site, since so many are spreading the word. Also revamped and updated the spreadsheet- donation dollars at work!

Anyway, that’s all for today. To be honest, yesterday kind of kicked my butt! I’m still exhausted from running around, getting supplies, cooking, and delivering. It was definitely the most work I’ve done in a single day in a while–and Monday is slated to be double that! Which is so exciting I can hardly sit still.

 

Much love to you all, and thank you for the continued support and kind words!

 

Day 1- Thursday April 9

Image may contain: food

Meals delivered to Worthington PD!

First day update! So I launched my GoFundMe and other fundraising yesterday, and so far have received almost $600 in donations! THANK YOU! I am overflowing with gratitude to amazing friends and family (and one stranger, so thank you whoever shared!), and am thankful for everyone’s support and encouragement.

So today I went to Wasserstrom Restaurant Supplies and picked up 150 reusable takeout containers for $54.28 after tax. I spent 45 minutes writing on them in Sharpie some variation of “Please rinse and return to be sanitized and reused,” so hopefully I won’t have to buy food containers too often. I’m hoping each one can be reused a few times before getting worn out, broken, lost, or accidentally discarded.

I also went to Aldi and spent $40.72 on 4lbs of green beans, 7lbs of pork baby back ribs, 10 lbs of potatoes, and 8 lbs of chicken thighs.

I delivered 15 meals (lemony garlic green beans with either roasted rosemary potatoes or creamy mashed potatoes and either 6-hr slow-roasted bbq ribs or slow-cooked spicy soy sauce chicken) to the Worthington Police Department because people are SURPRISINGLY SUSPICIOUS of free food but I’d worked with the police chief there in the past and hoped he’d remember and trust me enough to accept my cooking.

Check out my running spreadsheet here (accountants and/or spreadsheet pros, feel free to send suggestions for optimization): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1z1fNzRE7NR6GGZZAqyA1-Iv4BqB8izjl8WVtbCYVrug/edit?usp=sharing