Summer Update July 2020

Dear Friends of Shobi’s Table, 

Grace and peace be with you all! My goodness, so much has happened in this past season!  Just like the rest of the world, we have been doing our best to find new ways to respond to the needs arising from the COVID-19 crisis.  I wanted to write to share more and bring you up to date.  In the midst of all the hardships brought about by this strange time, we are also finding the blessings of pushing the reset button, practicing adapting, and reclaiming what we’re all about. 

A few weeks ago, I was handed a lovely yellow rose as payment for a Shobi’s Table lunch in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood.  I’ve heard that yellow roses can symbolize friendship, which is exactly what we want Shobi’s Table to be a catalyst for – it felt like such a gift!  It felt like my heart was held open to all God’s gifts found in the convergence of the table, where food and God’s beloved meet.  That day we were serving  up a from-scratch menu that not only held delicious Greek Garden wraps, Spicy Spuds and Chorizo wraps, and Shortbread cookies with strawberries and cream, but also the dignity of choice and fresh, healthy food.  I began to recognize faces that had come to the truck before.  Neighbors recognized the big blue truck parked in the Faith Lutheran parking lot as a safe place to come and eat.  Each one of us – from customers to staff, were planting and tending the seeds of friendship around the table. We were all being fed in body and spirit. 

According to FeedingAmerica.org, Minnesota is projected to have the second highest projected percent change in food insecurity (FI) rate between 2018 and 2020, due to the COVID-19 crisis.  As more and more people experience food insecurity in our neighborhoods, Shobi’s Table wants to be always ready to walk alongside them, and do what we can to help fill in the gaps.  We’re not doing this just because we believe that we have something that they need.   It is not the “have-nots” who need what the “haves” can provide.  That is a transaction, not a relationship.  We’re doing this because the needs of the community are felt by the community as a whole, and this is our community.   When we recognize that our happiness, health, safety and peace is affected not just by our own circumstances, but by those of the beloved around us, we understand community as the living being we are part of. We need each other, and to quote Paul Wellstone – “We all do better, when we all do better.”  

Since we first started serving again in April, we’ve served nearly 900+ meals, trained in 25 volunteers, and felt the presence of Jesus in every step.  I, and all of the leaders of Shobi’s Table, are so grateful to you for all the ways you have continued to support and be a part of the Shobi’s Table community with your volunteer hours, your financial donations, your prayers, and especially coming to the truck to share lunch with us.  Your continued part in this community is essential to how we can sustain, adapt and grow this ministry of friendship around the table.  

Check out below for a few more details on the updates about how we’ve been adjusting and growing.  Visit shobistable.org and follow us on Facebook for more up to date information, and of course – send me an email if you ever have a question or comment to share. 

In deep gratitude and joy, 

Deacon Kari Alice Ollsen 

A few updates: 

  1. New Serving Site in Frogtown at Faith Lutheran:  On May 21st, we began serving lunch every Thursday in Frogtown.  It grew quickly, and we have a steady line almost every time we come.  We’re so grateful to Pastor Caroline and the community of My Sister’s Mission for helping make it a possibility. 
  2. Serving at Bethlehem Lutheran in the Midway:  In the community uprising for justice for George Floyd, Bethlehem Lutheran (where we normally serve lunch on Fridays) became first a triage medical center then a community aid center, where they served hundreds of households and recruited 1000+ volunteers.  We had the privilege to serve lunch to the large community present there, serving the most lunches we’ve ever served out of the truck in one day – 160.  While it was exciting, our eyes were opened to how much work is needed to be done to rewrite the systems that expose so many to poverty and hunger too quickly.  
  3. New Partnership with Twin Cities Food Justice: In May Shobi’s Table began a new partnership with TCFJ.  They are an organization that rescues food from smaller grocers such as Co-ops, and delivers it to hunger relief organizations – such as us! We are grateful for their work throughout our Cities, and especially grateful when we receive deliveries of beautiful strawberries, peppers, plums and much more! 
  4. New Volunteer Opportunities: With a COVID-19 plan in place, we’ve already welcomed back over 25 volunteers to help out in the kitchen and at the truck!  A huge thank you to all who have come!  We’re still happy to welcome in more!  If you are interested in volunteering, please email me and check out the website for more information and sign ups.  Everyone who works in the kitchen and dish room needs to be trained in our new commercial kitchen space at Christ on Capitol Hill. Right now, trainings are on Wednesdays.  Email me if you’re interested, and we’ll get you signed up. 
  5. New Hire:  We welcomed Paul Damico-Carper as our newest Assistant Kitchen Manager in May.  Paul helps keep the kitchen shifts running smoothly, and is a genuine, gracious and hospitable presence welcoming everyone to the food truck for lunch.  We are so grateful for his presence!