Union Station: Preparing and serving dinner

On the third Saturday of every month, Caltech students and community gather at the Caltech Y to pack up groceries and carpool to Union Station Homeless Services’ Adult Center in Pasadena. In the center’s industrial kitchen, we prepare between 40 to 80 meals from $100 worth of groceries. Every meal we prepare includes a main dish, vegetable, starch, dessert, and drink. Typically, the kitchen is a flurry of activity for at least two hours as we chop vegetables, boil water in huge 10 to 16 quart pots, bake main dishes and desserts, and prepare plates to serve the residents. Once most of the residents have been served, we take breaks in shifts to get our own plates of food and sit with the residents as we eat. Once dinner is finished, there is still plenty to do, washing plates and cups, and scrubbing pots and trays.