"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."
~ Harriet Van Horne
How we make our meals
Areas of need:
NEW! Cookie Crew: we are looking for 3-5 weekly cookie bakers who would meet once per week at the Meals on Wheels kitchen to bake dozens of cookies for our Monday - Friday sack lunches.
Relief Cooks: our daily cooking crews are pretty full (our kitchen has space limitations); however, we occasionally need relief cooks who can step in and help 1-2 times per month.
Our meals are prepared and cooked Monday - Friday by 5 different crews of different "flavors". Each crew has a distinct personality and a head cook who plans the meal while coordinating with the other head cooks. Our Wednesday cooking crew, for instance, is quite large with 10-18 people helping on a weekly basis. Those volunteers are headed by a long-time volunteer whose ability to coordinate so many people in the kitchen rivals some military generals! Most crews, however, are 5-8 people. The cooking crews prep their meals in advance of their dedicated cooking and meal delivery day, so there is constant activity in the Sonoma Meals on Wheels kitchen, 7 days per week.
Some of our head cooks have cooked for Sonoma Meals on Wheels for 20 years, and it shows in the dedicated and creative ways that meals are created and cooked for our clients. The cooks are quite versatile as well, as they often use donated foods that come in the day of their hot meal delivery. While menus are planned in advance, there have been a number of times when a food donation has come in the day before or the day of a cook's dedicated cooking day, and that cook and their crew have shifted their plan to incorporate those donated foods into the meals for our clients. It's a special skill set, and it's one which all of the cooks have embraced and fostered in spite of the challenges associated with changing one's menu at the last minute.
Since our inception, our cooks at Sonoma Meals on Wheels have cooked meals on any holidays that have fallen on a weekday, including the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Those holidays are times that our organization really enjoys doing some extra-special things for our clients, like including gifts in their delivery, as well as creating robust menus of noteworthy recipes, like roasted beef tenderloin for Christmas with savory shiitake mushroom bread pudding, peas & pearl onions, and gingerbread cake with candy cane whipped cream.
Our cooking volunteers not only cook, but they shop at retail stores for ingredients we don't get donated or don't need to order in bulk. They organize and deep-clean the kitchen on a regular basis - keeping drawers and cupboards in order, scrubbing refrigerators and floors and stoves, stocking the pantry. The head cooks meet with one another on a regular basis to menu plan, brainstorm cooking ideas, discuss ways to minimize food waste, review our meal packaging options, and the list goes on. The kitchen crews are quite dedicated, but the head cooks are stalwart leaders whose unwavering dedication has kept the elderly and the homebound residents of Sonoma Valley well-fed since 1974, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March 2020.