Love in Action
March 11, 2021
By MB Communications Team
“Hospitality is love in action. Hospitality is the flesh and muscle on bones of love.” – Alexander Strauch – The Love Commands
Hospitality is not the same as entertaining, but one would be hard-pressed to find any groups that demonstrate both any better than the Food Service and Facilities teams at Mt. Bethel. With limited staff, each of these teams provide environments that welcome and serve both members and guests on not just a week-end basis, but every day of the week.
Under the direction of Cathy Cunha, our kitchen staff of five – yes, ONLY five – provides over 500 meals a day for the students who attend our Academy. Working with COVID restrictions presented a new challenge this year in that those student lunches are prepared and boxed individually for each student before being delivered to the Academy building. To protect our students from large group gatherings, the decision was made that they would eat in their classrooms to reduce possible exposure to the virus. To make the new system work, an order form was created so that parents could place orders for their child(ren) on a monthly basis, choosing from a hot meal menu item, a sandwich with toppings of their choice, or a dinner salad, while also having the option of two side items! Two regular volunteers have made the process run more smoothly from the kitchen side and a group of staff members on the Academy side who deliver the meals on kitchen carts to each classroom have been key to the success of the program. And guess what? At the end of each day after the meals are delivered, it starts all over! Carts are returned to the kitchen, sanitized for the next day, meals are packed, and another day begins. Oh, and guess what time that day begins? If you guessed any later than 5am, you would be wrong. Our dedicated staff begins each day at that time because it takes approximately five hours to fulfill the day’s needs.
Preparing lunches for our Academy students is in addition to the 50 or so lunches that are delivered to the Day Care Center each day, AND the 16 varieties of boxed lunch meals and five varieties of rice bowls (or a special soup and sandwich option on Tuesdays) that are prepared four days per week for staff members to purchase. Did you get lost in all those numbers? Read on for more of what happens on a regular basis in the MB Kitchen.
Starting during the early days of the pandemic and in conjunction with our Care and Missions ministries, Cathy and staff began preparing meals for our shut-ins – our older adults or ill congregants. Each Wednesday, a box with two lunches, two dinners, soup, salads, breakfast bread, and desserts are prepped at Mt. Bethel and delivered by a group of dedicated volunteers who not only deliver the meals, but also spend time talking with the recipients of the meals and learning about their needs.
Are you tired yet? Our Food Services staff also baked over 2500 cookies and made hot chocolate for our Christmas Comes Alive guests! Many of you probably don’t know this, but they also prepared 120 sack meals for our local Missions guests to preview the event at its dress rehearsal prior to opening to the public. And let’s not forget their contribution to the Food Truck Fridays we hosted last fall! Cathy and staff/volunteers popped popcorn and assisted our Senior Pastor in his Barbecue plates for our November event. This is ALL in addition to assisting our BackPack Ministry with ordering 600 turkeys for Thanksgiving and 600 pork loins for Christmas as well as teaming up with MUST ministry in delivering food to their ministry partners including Mosaic Church.
So NOW, let’s talk about our Facilities crew. Although our Kitchen staff has been beyond amazing in their contributions to Mt. Bethel, we can’t forget what our Facilities crew has done for us during and since the pandemic began. Do you realize that while most of us were at home with imposed restrictions, our Facilities team was still working to provide a safe atmosphere for each of us? When we were concerned about the safety of public buildings, particularly Mt. Bethel, we had a team of professionals who reported daily to ensure that anyone entering our premises would feel safe. With Dan Boswell, our Director of Facilities (and also with a limited crew) at the helm, there was never a skipped beat in the security of the church and its environs. Whenever any function or event occurs at Mt. Bethel, Dan and his crew are the “behind the scenes” heroes who make it all work. Whether it’s Sunday Morning worship, Food Truck Friday, Christmas Comes Alive, or any of our on-campus events, they are an integral part of the process. Our Facilities team ensures that our Sanctuary and surrounding areas are “COVID-safe” for our guests and members for each and every event sponsored by Mt. Bethel. We consider them our “unsung heroes” when it comes to events on the campus. Their preliminary work is vitally important to the success of the events that occur on our campus.
As we embrace the changes within the walls of Mt. Bethel, let’s never forget the challenges outside its wall. Without the commitment of these ministries, we would be extremely limited in reaching the community outside.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “True hospitality consists of giving the best of yourself to your guests.” We are so grateful to the hard-working and often unrecognized staff at Mt. Bethel who continually give “the best” of themselves!
(Based on interviews and comments from our Kitchen and Facilities Teams)