News

Cooking marathon tries to meet the need

John Law

By John Law, Niagara Falls Review

Carey Benvenuti

Carey Benvenuti

Carey Benvenuti is firing up the oven again. And this time, it won’t stop for two days.

For the past year, the Niagara Falls mom has organized massive cooking sessions at the new Firemen’s Hall at Firemen’s Park to help the Salvation Army’s Niagara Mobile Outreach Unit. The agency operates a food truck which provides nightly meals and support for people in need.

Starting in December last year, Benvenuti and her team of volunteers started cooking hundreds of pounds of donated food for the truck to hand out. The donations grew with each session, with hundreds of meals being handed out.

Now, with Thanksgiving approaching, Benvenuti is preparing for her largest cooking marathon yet, stretching two days Oct. 2 and 3 to prepare 600 meals.

She estimates it will require 62 turkeys, 50 to 60 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of carrots, 15 bags of peas, 15 bags of corn, two cases of chicken stock and 27 bags of stuffing.

“My whole premise behind this is that everyone chips in a little as to not overwhelm any one person or organization, and we come together to cook,” says the mortgage agent at Dominion Lending Centres. “One meal can make a difference sometimes. One small part, bag of peas, case of chicken stock, etc., can make a difference when put together.”

It didn’t take long for word to spread. This week, the Denny’s restaurant in Fort Erie donated 52 turkeys plus 50 pounds of potatoes and carrots.

“I’m so blown away by this,” says Benvenuti. “It’s going to take a ton of the pressure off.”

The Outreach Unit truck operates six nights per week, visiting Fort Erie/Crystal Beach on Monday, Welland/Port Colborne on Tuesday, Beamsville/Grimsby on Wednesday, St. Catharines/Thorold on Thursday and Saturday, and Niagara Falls on Friday. A full list of nightly stops can be seen at www.nmop.ca

Benvenuti says the need is especially large in Niagara Falls because of the recent closure on the Topper Motel on Lundy’s Lane, which several struggling people lived in on a month-to-month basis.

“Now there are people without the means to cook for themselves,” she says.

Despite her tight schedule - she also helps out at a restaurant at night - Benvenuti says her meal marathons just get more rewarding as they get bigger.

“This will be an ongoing project for me and I hope to only grow it.”

The cook-off takes place both days from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. To volunteer, contact Benvenuti at 289-968-0043.

jlaw@postmedia.com

 

 



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