As well as providing food to those in need in our community, Toni’s Kitchen also provides the following services:
Nutrition For Our Guests
At Toni’s Kitchen, we recognize that guests have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, adequate amounts of protein, and sufficient quantities of whole grains and dairy. We also recognize that guests often rely on fast foods which may contain excessive amounts of fat, salt, and sugar.
Our goal at Toni’s Kitchen is to provide guests with consistently healthy, nutritious, and tasty meals. Meals are planned and prepared using the following guidelines:
- Collaborative meal planning process
- My Plate and USDA nutrition guidelines
- Six ounces of protein per serving
- Limited use of “mixed dishes,” as mixed dishes usually result in a lesser amount of protein
- Limited fat intake
- Reduced sodium intake
- Reduced amount of refined sugar
Nutrition Targets for Each Meal:
- Sodium: 1300mg
- Calories: 1500-1800
- Protein: 30%
- Vegetables: 30%
- Grains: 20%
- Fruits: 20%
Community Outreach for Families
Poverty in families can be especially devastating. Toni’s Kitchen connects with low-income families in the community through tutoring programs, mentoring and counseling groups, and summer camps. We have developed an extensive backpack program to provide healthy food at these gatherings to help improve family nutrition while preserving respect and dignity.
In 2015, Toni’s Kitchen provided 1,912 backpacks and pantry bags are part of our outreach programs, which equals more than 22,000 meals for needy families.
For more info about the backpack program, click here: http://tk.slechurch.org/how-we-help/healthy-backpacks/
Health and Wellness
Toni’s Kitchen provides a growing number of health and wellness services. We have increasingly focused on self-management of health and nutrition.
Our “Whole Health” preventive program (through the Mental Health Association of Essex County) keeps senior citizens from slipping into homelessness. MHAEC makes counselors available to guests of Toni’s Kitchen every Thursday during the mid-day meal.
Toni’s Kitchen also provides regular free, regular blood pressure and glucose screening for our guests.
Access to regular healthcare supports independent living and relieves pressure on local emergency rooms.
Toni’s Kitchen is the grateful recipient of donated garden space from HomeCorp. We also have small gardens on the St. Luke’s property. These garden provide the freshest produce for our kitchen meals and guest takeaway. We are always in need of additional gardening volunteers. If you’re interested in helping us with our garden program, please e-mail us at email@example.com.
Personal Care and Warm Accessories
This is a small program with a big benefit. Toni’s Kitchen actively solicits donations of toiletries, hats, gloves, warm coats, socks and other items for daily living. Our community is most generous and we are able to provide our guests with these items regularly at the end of meals. While these are items we sometimes take for granted, they make a huge difference. For some, it is matter of keeping feet warm and dry in the winter. For others, it is having the personal care items needed to keep a job. For some of our seniors, these items shave precious dollars off their monthly costs.
Some guests we know quite well. Others we never get to know. Guests know that they can always come to us when they are in crisis or need assistance. It is this one-on-one connection that can shift the trajectory of lives. Most needs that surface as a result of sharing a meal together are easily handled: a change of clothes; a call to a landlord; help filling out government forms; temporary storage for a few bags for someone without housing; bus fare to a doctor’s appointment; directions; a pair of boots that don’t leak; a bucket of warm water with Epsom salts to calm inflamed feet; a bag of groceries.
Some are of a different order: preventing a pending eviction; a ride to the emergency room; calls to service providers who are not being responsive; visits to the hospital and conversations with social workers to ensure safe discharge conditions for those without insurance or family.
We are not social workers at Toni’s Kitchen and we turn always to our community partners and social services organizations. However, there are times when urgent individual needs do not fit neatly within the programs and schedules and requirements of support programs available in the community. It is only in these circumstances that we sometimes quietly intervene with an extra measure of support.
Toni’s Kitchen has the organizational flexibility and agility to be able, sometimes, to keep a guest from becoming seriously at risk. We are deeply grateful that we are able to do this.
Gentle Exercise Program
Each Friday at 11:00 am, we offer guests a gentle exercise program to help keep them healthy and strong, and to help foster their independence.