In the Mission’s kitchen, food is a constant touchpoint
Riding “shotgun” is usually a non-event, but for guests at the Eugene Mission, Oregon’s largest homeless shelter, getting the opportunity to ride shotgun can be a life-changing experience.
Each morning, a few of the Mission’s 300-some volunteers drive routes around town, harvesting food donations. Food services director Marshall Eck receives these deliveries. He acknowledged the significance of guests — who reside at the Mission from a few days to several years — going along.
“It feels good to leave here,” Eck said. “And it’s kind of a mentorship moment, you know, with a volunteer … It’s amazing how impactful a healthy volunteer is riding for a couple of hours with a guest. It helps them feel human, they start socializing … And then they also feel like they’re part of bringing the food back for dinner.”
“I’ve had a number of volunteer drivers actually coach people through job interviews as they’re having these conversations in the car,” said Tabitha Eck, Marshall’s wife and director of strategic operations and resources at the Mission.
Another team effort guests make is working a dish shift in the kitchen, where three meals a day provide an uplifting touchpoint for the kitchen team to mentor the Mission’s guests.
“We like to say the food is at the center. It can relate to a lot of people and a lot of situations…
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