In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the local service group known as Table of Plenty completely transformed its operations to maintain its mission of providing meals to those in need.
Sister Jeanette Braun explained that the organization is an opportunity for “diverse members of the community, be it the elderly or the homeless or the struggling families, to sit down together and enjoy a weekly community supper.” The organization started out serving its first meal to 35 guests. Prior to the pandemic, the organization provided 150 members of the Coastside community with weekly sit-down dinners including live music and tasty, healthy meals.
“It’s a labor of love,” Braun stated.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Table of Plenty board member Debbe Kennedy noted that the organization has been forced to transform its operations three or four times. One week saw operations changing to home meals, with the next week shifting to takeout, and the week after transforming again to personal home delivery. Meals are delivered to the homeless living in their cars or living under the Highway 1 bridge.
Table of Plenty also collaborates with other local organizations like Coastside Hope to deliver to struggling families. At the Senior Center, meals are delivered directly to seniors’ doors.
Many meals are put in a brown paper bag, often decorated on the exterior, and include a warm entree and a freshly baked roll from Half Moon Bay Bakery. Freshly baked cookies are often included in the decorative bags that may include messages from volunteers.
“We’re very grateful that we were able to stick to our mission,” Braun said of the various changes the organization has experienced.
“It’s working, thanks to the dedication and hard work of a core group.”
Braun explained that she can’t have teenage volunteers working with the organization during the pandemic. Additionally, while some older volunteers can’t be with the organization in person, they are still able to contribute by “making thoughtful phone calls to those that are alone and are isolated.”
The organization grants a scholarship each year to a deserving student volunteer. This year the scholarship was granted to graduated Half Moon Bay High School senior Trinidad Cruz who has been serving with Table of Plenty since seventh grade. Braun detailed the growth she has observed in Cruz who matured from a “painfully shy” seventh-grader to an attentive and conscientious server and student mentor in her high school years.
Students like Cruz play an important role in the service mission of Table of Plenty. “Serving expands their awareness of the diversity in the community” and they “learn to help welcome these diverse members to the Table of Plenty,” said Braun about her student volunteers.
While the organization hopes to return to in-person dining operations, its work is certainly not halted by the global pandemic.
“We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to prove how powerful love can be when we work together,” Braun said.