Volunteers use culinary artistry to feed hungry at Billings homeless shelter
Volunteers chop onions at the MRM (MTN)
A lot of volunteers flood the Montana Rescue Mission on holidays like Christmas and Easter to help serve food.
But on an otherwise uneventful Wednesday, dozens of volunteers walked through the doors of the Mission, eager to serve.
The recently unveiled Bring a Meal program allows volunteers to come up with a meal plan, make and serve the food.
These chefs in training sharpen their cooking skills, and at the end of the lesson, they feed the hungry.
"We are cooking shepherd's pie, which is a meal my grandma cooked for me when I was young," said Monica Hill, a volunteer.
Hill rounded up family and friends to participate in the program.
"I thought it would be good for my children for one and to give back to the community I think is important," said Hill.
The volunteers sponsor the meal, which costs about $300 on average, according to MRM Communications Director Denise Smith.
“We have a lot of people that help donating, but once they get involved with it and see what we do 365 days a year, it puts a face to it and makes it real," said MRM Executive Chef Stuart Bovington.
After families prepare the meal, they serve it themselves to the many men, women and children who would otherwise go without.
The program is in its infancy, but already, it's proved successful.
The meals served through this program are typically fancier, with meals like chicken hongroise, with a garlic cream sauce, or a Hawaiin luau, which features pork shoulder and noodles.
The volunteers who sponsor the meal purchase the supplies themselves, with a grocery list prepared by Bovington.
“The cost of the supplies was really small and to know that that amount of money can feed 150 people, it really makes you look at where we spend our money and how much it could help if we put it to a good cause," said Hill.
The cause is much better understood in a real life experience, according to Bovington, who himself knew little about homelessness before he began work at the MRM.
"Until I actually got immersed in this, I couldn't really appreciate it and when people are helping us they actually see what's going on,” said Bovington. “It's just an abstract concept "the homeless," but being involved with them you really get to connect."
If you would like to sponsor a meal, contact the MRM volunteer center at 406-259-3800 to reserve a time.