Marc Weinberg: Tuesday Night Dinner Menu - for 78 guests

Sunday, January 26, 2014

St. Dunstan's Tent City 3 encampment
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg
Text and photos by Marc Weinberg 

Ingredients:
  1. One well rounded chef/cook (Josef) 
  2. Sprinkle with 7 to 8 faithful and happy helpers (Mary, Madeline, Karen, Danielle, Richard, Marlin, Steve) 
  3. Blend well in a commercial kitchen (St. Dunstan’s) 
  4. Shop for the most affordable products 
  5. Depend on chief’s recall and creativity for recipes based on experience with available supplies 
  6. Develop a team commitment to do this every Tuesday 
  7. Deliver and serve the finished meal to the hungry guests, regardless of where they are living. 
  8. Repeat 52 times a year with vigor. 
Chef Josef and his crew preparing the meal
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

Chef Josef and his crew of volunteers have been doing that since 2008 for the residents of Tent City 3 and don’t plan on changing anytime soon, if ever. Thanks to their commitment and the supply of produce and products from Safeway where Josef and Danielle work, this is the model they plan to follow.

Safeway graciously contributes what they can and the residents, who often refer to themselves as ‘campers,’ are most grateful. Each meal depends on Safeway’s generosity. I asked Josef how far ahead of starting to prepare a meal does he know what he will prepare. His answer was, “maybe an hour before!” 

The meal prep that I observed consisted of a pork stew, steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, beans, fruit salad, lettuce/tomato salad, and a rich dessert of bananas foster. Drinks were chocolate or white milk and orange juice. And the campers loved it. 

Chef Josef gives the pork stew one more inspection
as St. Dunstan's Rector David Marshall and Danielle look on
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

I first met Tent City 3 in the winter of 2007-08 and felt overwhelmed by their needs, especially a month later when they were buried in snow at Calvin Presbyterian Church. I’ve been collecting donated items, often by the car load, from garage sales ever since. Since 2009 I have written much about Tent City 3 in published articles about them and the issue of homelessness. Each camper has their own compelling story about why they are there and their efforts to move on.

Meal service is set up in the dining tent
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

My feeling about them and their community can best be summed up in the preface I wrote in the photo album I created for them which documents their life and their relocations, It is maintained in their Tent City 3 office on site. 
Dear Tent City 3, March 11, 2009 
This is Our Album, yours and mine, and it will grow as we all will. These pages represent only the times we’ve spent together and not when we’ve been alone and apart.   
My effort is to remind myself and us that our lives may be separate, but our needs are the same. I respect your right to privacy in your home and thank you for inviting me in.  
When I began this project, I had no idea what it would mean to come into your life or you into mine. From my brief visits to your door over this winter with gifts of mine and my neighbors, I realized I wanted to do more, to share with others the community where we all live.  
My photos, like myself, may be imperfect. They may never hang on an important wall, but they are important nonetheless. They are a record in time when I saw you for just a second and realized you were there. Thank you for sharing your life with me.  
Sincerely, Marc 
Campers enjoy this labor of love, with thanks to all
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

Please make the effort to visit Tent City 3, and learn about our roving neighbors, their lives and needs. The camp is self-governing with strong prohibitions of alcohol/drugs/violence. Residents are required to do a number of hours of service every week. They maintain their own security volunteers who patrol the perimeter in the neighborhood to monitor the campers and to pick up trash. Historically, incidents of crime tend to go down in the neighborhoods where tent city is located. Your visit will demonstrate and encourage our community’s continued efforts to support a place for those in need. 

St. Dunstan’s Church is located at 722 N 145th Street 

For additional information and to find out what you might do to contribute toward the success of Tent City 3 please visit the Seattle Cares website.


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