In 2014, Toni’s Kitchen Advisory Committee member and longtime volunteer Pat Moulton, in collaboration with Claire Bonesteel, a Montclair High School student and summer volunteer, put together a survey questionnaire to learn more about the guests served by Toni’s Kitchen. The survey explored why our guests come to Toni’s, what services they use, and how our guests eat when they are not at Toni’s Kitchen. The survey also asked about the guests’ awareness of and use of services available at Toni’s Kitchen other than meals. Guests completed the questionnaires voluntarily and anonymously on two different days. A total of 47 surveys were completed. What did we learn? A lot. Our guests are a fascinating, diverse community of individuals. Here are some highlights:
- 57% of our guests have post high school education, some college, college degree, or graduate school.
- 18% of our guests have no place to stay.
- Lack of money is the biggest challenge for our guests when it comes to cooking for themselves, followed by limited or no access to a stove.
Our efforts to make the meals our guests get at Toni’s Kitchen their healthiest meal of the day were validated by survey results like the following:
- Other than those provided at Toni’s Kitchen, fruits and vegetables are eaten less than daily by 62% of the guests surveyed.
- 38% did not have breakfast the morning the surveys were done.
- 26% did not have dinner the previous evening.
- 36% of our guests have been advised to follow a low-salt diet, 28% a low-sugar diet, and 17% a low-calorie diet for weight reduction.
- 45% of our guests have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and 19% have been diagnosed with diabetes.
In the area of health care:
- More than 80% of our guests have health insurance, and yet 30% reported that when they need to see a doctor they would go to a hospital Emergency Room.
- 58% would use the medical services provided at Toni’s Kitchen if they were having a health problem.
- Over 35% of our guests have accessed the case management services offered by the Whole Health Program. Another 40% said that they would access that program if needed.
Finally, and most importantly, you are appreciated for your work, efforts, and caring. When we asked if there were any other comments, here are some of their words:
- “The people at Toni’s Kitchen are great.”
- “Toni’s Kitchen should be a national model for soup and meal kitchens.”
- “Toni’s Kitchen is the best!”
- “I’m thankful for the good food and the volunteers that work so hard. The food is good and filling. I enjoy talking to the people. May God bless you all and thank you.”
You can see the full results of the survey by clicking here: http://tk.slechurch.org/?p=2667 What more can we say? Looks like we’re headed in the right direction. And, we can use more volunteers for some key roles. We could use help on food pick-ups on weekdays or weekends, usually an hour or two at most, one day a week. We’re also starting to build a team that can come in around 11:30 and help with serving the meals and clean up afterwards. If you know anyone looking for a chance to “give back,” please have them email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.