Numbers and Neighbors – July News

Inside you’ll find a reflection on Numbers and Neighbors, an Update on The Third Day, info on Compostable Materials Drives, and a reflection from our Kitchen Manager on the Youth Pride event we got to cater in June. 

Grants as Discernment

One of the delightful things I get to share with you is that we recently won two big grants from the Deaconess Community of the ELCA and Open Your Heart in St Paul, MN. It’s such a relief and a boon to get such letters of good news and support.  If you’ve ever written grant applications you know that it can be an involved process that directs you to review your real goals, and also makes you dig for all the details about your organization and project. It can be a gift of clarity and require a lot of energy.  But, all in all, it is so often worth the effort – from just the process of writing, to the joy of receiving good news, to learning what might have worked better. I might go so far to say that grant writing is an excellent discernment process.  The work of grant writing doesn’t end at submittal; it continues on in reports back to the grantor when they come through, and finding the next one when they don’t.  

This process is one reason so many nonprofits and churches know the pattern of tracking details – numbers, dates, people, etc.  There are lots of different opinions and philosophies around why we track and whether it builds a barrier or not.  At Shobi’s, one of the main things we track is the amount of meals we give out each day.   It’s great that I get to tell you that we’ve served 2101 pay-as-you-can meals as of the writing of this article, and brought over 500 to other ministry partners.  But the point isn’t just the numbers.  While numbers can tell us patterns that help guide us in discernment and measure our goals, the most important part is who those numbers represent. They represent our growing Shobi’s Table community, from customers and volunteers who show up every week to new folks we may only see once or twice.  This is a community who is more than numbers, more than even names. It is a community we get the privilege to be part of and to share a meal with.  Sure, we bring the food… but everyone who comes brings their story, and even if we only get to hear a little bit of that story at the serving window (or at the tables we’re now setting up!), we are all the richer for it.  We are all bringing what we can to the table, and it is a feast for empty stomachs and sore hearts!

– Deacon Kari Alice Olsen, Director

Update on the Third Day

In June we added our third day on Tuesdays at Christ on Capitol Hill.  It is a natural fit for us to serve in this neighborhood again, and we are so glad to see some neighbors we remember.  (For those of you who don’t know, we served lunch on Rice street and in the church in 2019 pre-pandemic.)  We’ve already reached a milestone of 50 lunches in one day!  Folks from Christ on Capitol Hill, the Synod staff, and other ministry partners such as Daily Work have been regular customers.  It is a wonderful sight to see folks from varying life experiences all together in line.  If you’re free for lunch on a Tuesday, we’d love to see you!

Compostable Materials Drive

At Shobi’s, we’re committed to environmental justice through good food stewardship and using as much compostable material as we can.  The thing is, compostable to-go containers are expensive!  If you (or your community) love doing collection drives, then we’d love for you to consider doing a compostable materials drive for us.  For more information you can check out our website, and/or email

Youth Pride

As we pull up in the truck, we can tell there is a festival excitement, a real event is happening. The air crackles with anticipation, and I see the line of people waiting for us to arrive,  waiting to be fed. We are afraid we won’t find a place to park, but they have saved us a space and we maneuver into the tight squeeze.

Immediately the line surges to our window and I hurriedly assure the folks we will be ready to serve in a few minutes. As I observe the group before me, I am struck first by the diversity of faces and clothing.  There are rainbows everywhere, and sparkles, and pink and blue and green hair. Most notable are the smiles and the joy that is just bubbling up all around this event.

The next two hours pass in a blur of burritos and banter at the window.  I awkwardly stumble over non-gender specific language, doing my best not to accidentally misgender someone. We served over 160 folks and I am relieved that we were able to make the food stretch and did not have to turn anyone away.

In the distance we can hear music and jubilant screams.  As we clean up, Taylor and I decide to take some time to explore the event and see what all the screaming is about.

We find a group of tweens and teens watching a lip sync drag show.  Each time the performers do a particularly impressive dance move or give a saucy look at the crowd, the screams erupt again. Looking around, I am, once again, surprised by the diversity of people present and the freedom and ease with which they move about the space. I realize that this event was purposefully and intentionally created to be welcoming for LGBTQ+ youth and that they did, in fact, feel welcome and safe to be themselves.  What a gift and what an ideal to aspire to. What if we all felt so welcome everywhere we went? What if we were able to welcome others, no matter who your other is, so fully and easily? What if?

– Daniele Maeder, Kitchen Manager