ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Brickner: Remembering others, year round

Columnist Joan Brickner writes shares her experience with the Lunch Bunch, a group of volunteers who make and assemble meals for those in need year round.

Brickner_Joan.jpg
Joan Brickner, Forum Readers Board
We are part of The Trust Project.

“Everybody does better when everybody does better.” Jim Hightower, radio host

Several weeks ago, The New York Times focused on Fargo’s charm and revitalization .

One photo featured the Heart & Soul food truck. Although I haven’t served on the truck, I have helped with a related service called the “Lunch Bunch,” both led by director Leola Daul.

Picture1.jpg
Volunteers from the Lunch Bunch, Heart and Soul and First Presbyterian Church recently gathered at Square One Kitchen to assemble hundreds of individual Thanksgiving meals.
Joan Brickner / The Forum

The day before Thanksgiving, volunteers from the Lunch Bunch, Heart & Soul and First Presbyterian Church gathered to prepare hundreds of individual meals to distribute in the community: turkey or ham, stuffing, cheesy mashed potatoes, and corn, along with cranberry sauce and dessert. We met at Square One Rental Kitchens, a bright windowed space with wood cabinets and stainless-steel. An assembly line of workers filled the containers, sealed them with reheating instructions and tucked them into boxes. Another group showed up for deliveries. Hope Blooms brightened the meals with beautiful flowers.

More meals were served on Thanksgiving Day itself.

ADVERTISEMENT

Many organizations serve during holidays. This is wonderful, of course. But I’m grateful for organizations like Heart & Soul and the Lunch Bunch that help year-round or nearly so.

Picture3.jpg
A prepared Thanksgiving meal of turkey or ham, stuffing, cheesy mashed potatoes, and corn, along with cranberry sauce and dessert.
Joan Brickner / The Forum

I first heard about Heart & Soul through a former student, Heidi King. Heart & Soul is part of a national network called “One World Everybody Eats.” This organization encompasses nearly 50 cafes and food trucks nationally, from Colorado to North Carolina. One group even serves in Ukraine. On its website, the mission is ”dedicated to increasing food security and building community through the pay-what-you-can nonprofit restaurant model. ” Given that Cass County alone has nearly 10,000 food insecure people, it is an important resource.

For Daul, building community is a deep value. She says, “We all have a lot more in common than we’re different. When you sit down you find commonality over a meal,” a lesson she learned at her parents’ table, often filled with guests and lively conversation.

After positions in early childhood, Daul started her first Heart & Soul pop-up in 2016, believing that “everybody should have the opportunity to have a good meal.” She also liked the idea of supporting local foods and local people, who sometimes had more gifts than funds.

Picture4.jpg
Heart and Soul director Leola Daul labels a Thanksgiving meal.
Joan Brickner / The Forum

With Covid, Heart & Soul partnered with organizations to bring their truck into varied neighborhoods in open-air venues.

Months ago, I made simple cards, but I decided I wanted to work in the kitchen, with the Lunch Bunch, which is aimed more at the poor and underserved. I enjoy the hands-on experience and the banter as we make sandwiches of cheese and lunch meat. Our assembly line then regroups to pack brown-bag lunches including fresh produce, cookies and encouraging cards, with messages like “Have a great day!” or “You are loved!”

Years ago, I volunteered in Detroit’s rough Cass Corridor, and later my husband and I used a food bank that gave only unhealthy food, past expiration. The fact that diverse groups rave over the quality and nutrition at Heart & Soul/Lunch Bunch is a real bonus. Under Daul’s leadership, with help from individuals like Rev. Mary Holtey and Jane Mathew, I find a group that joyfully nurtures “heart and soul.”

Interested in a broad range of issues, including social and faith issues, Brickner serves as a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. She is a retired English instructor, having taught in Michigan and Minnesota.

ADVERTISEMENT

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

READ MORE FROM INFORUM COLUMNIST JOAN BRICKNER
Besides an absolute ban on abortion, some want an absolute ban on contraception, a ban that would also hurt men, women and children.

Opinion by Joan Brickner
Interested in a broad range of issues, including social and faith issues, Joan Brickner serves as a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. She is a retired English instructor, having taught in Michigan and Minnesota.

What To Read Next
"You could hear an audible groan in the chamber," one lawmaker told me shortly afterward. "Absolutely embarrassing."
Bochenski says the president of UND told him that Chinese students and faculty feel "uncomfortable." Also, a state veterinarian weighs in on controversy around deer baiting.
"Life is short, ends in a moment, and we don’t think much about it some days. ... It’s a scenic highway, and we should keep it that way, go a bit slower, and enjoy life."
"Some of Fargo's leaders would have us believe they're fighting gun violence. But they're not. They're wasting our time fighting over something that wasn't a problem in the first place."