The holiday season brings to mind thoughts of food and family, but there are 364 other days in the year when food is just as important – especially to those who struggle with food security.
To ease food struggles in the local community, residents at Covenant Shores, a faith-based, not-for-profit, continuing care retirement community administered by Covenant Retirement Communities, have joined forces with SODEXO food service and Covenant Shores’ very own Diversity Awareness Partners to provide lunches to those in need.
“There are lots of conversations happening and laughing during the sandwich making process,” says Joan Selvig, a resident leader of Diversity Awareness Partners. DAP was developed by residents and sanctioned by Covenant Shores’ management to bring awareness to diversity issues in the world, she says.
On the fourth of each month, a group of about 20-25 dedicated sandwich makers gather to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and assemble 100 bag lunches in a program appropriately titled Jam Session. The bag lunches include a sandwich, chips, cookie, fruit and bottle of water. The lunches are boxed up and transported to two homeless day centers in Bellevue: Sophia’s Place and Congregations for the Homeless.
Anita Siefert, Life Enrichment Supervisor of Health Care Center, had a similar program years ago, and says she was pleased to see it reborn.
“It is a great program for residents at all levels of care at Covenant Shores,” Siefert says. “It’s a worthy outlet for community involvement.”
In thanks to Covenant Shores for underwriting most of the food, Jam Session has been helping to feed the community for about a year, Selvig says.
Selvig says that the heart of the project lies with Life Enrichment Coordinator Ofra Levy who sets up the room and gathers the assisted living participants for Jam Session. Selvig also credits residents and Diversity Awareness Partners Lorinda Tang, Tom Nielsen and Biji Keigley as staples in the Jam Session sandwich assembly line.
“We wanted a project in which various levels of care in our community could work together to benefit the whole community at large, and Jam Session fits that bill,” she says. “It is truly a group effort. There are assisted living folks, some who come down in wheelchairs and put the sandwiches together, and residential living folks who work alongside the assisted living residents, and deliver the lunches to the centers. We have developed a method through trial and error, more or less, and sometimes the sandwiches get cut in interesting ways, but we all really enjoy it.”