Connect with the Camp

When you cook a meal for Camp Second Chance, you are not only providing vital nourishment, you are creating a relationship with people whose greatest need is not food, but connection. If you cook regularly, after a few weeks you will be welcomed in the camp not only as a benefactor, but as a friend. You will learn more about yourself and about other people than you ever expected. You will gain as much as you give.

Ideally, you will sign up for a weekly slot, cooking one day per week for about 50 people. We have heard of some folks collaborating with neighbors or family to put together that much food. Crock pots turn out to be a very handy tool when cooking in quantity!

To have a discussion about cooking for the camp, please call me, David B., at 206-913-1021, or email david@patacara.org. I have been cooking chili for the camp one day a week for the better part of a year. It is the foundation of my relationship with the camp and with the people who live there. I will be happy to schedule you for one or more meals, or to just talk about what it means to cook for the camp.

See the meal calendar.

Advice About Cooking for the Camp

  • Bring meat. Ask any homeless person what they want to eat; the answer is “meat!” Protein is hard to get, rarely donated, and highly valued. Fat is good, too, especially during the winter. Carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and sweets are common because they are relatively cheap, and there’s always too much. Bring meat!
  • Cook for people with no teeth. One of the harsh truths about our society is that poor people don’t get adequate dental care, and as a result many lose their teeth – sometimes all their teeth. (We do have programs at the camp to provide dental care and even dentures, but not everyone can access those programs.) Choose dishes that don’t require hard chewing: casseroles, soups, and stews with tender or ground meat are good options. Vegetables should be cooked until tender. Raw vegetables – including salads – though nutritious, are not popular. Everything should be easy to chew.
  • Time your cooking for safety. Your cooked food must arrive at the camp above the safe holding temperature of 140 degrees, or damn near. That means taking it off the stove or out of the oven and putting it in your car, ideally in a thermal container or wrapped in a blanket. Then you drive to the camp and unload the food, still steaming hot. That gives the campers a few hours to eat before the food must be wrapped and refrigerated or, more likely, discarded. Preserve health and avoid waste by delivering your cooked food very hot.
  • One appropriate dish in sufficient quantity is enough. You may prepare side dishes or a complete multi-course meal, but you don’t have to. Sometimes I have made just a big pot of chili – about 10 quarts or 2 1/2 gallons – and it was profoundly well-received. That amount serves about 25 people, but the camp has grown recently. I am now making twice as much to serve at least 50 people. If you can’t make that much, we will try to team you up with another cook.

To schedule yourself to cook a meal, please call or email me, David B.: 206-913-1021, david@patacara.org. Or, to get started, you can fill out this handy online Google Form!

Or, if you’d like us to do the cooking…

…you can donate groceries or money to shop for food! We have camp staff and volunteers who will use your donation to cook a meal for the camp. You can donate using the button in the right-hand column, or you can drop off a gift card to Costco or Fred Meyer.

The camp was recently gifted a propane grill! It costs about $100 to throw a barbecue at camp and we have great cooks there. Donations are tax-deductible!

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