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Serving Guidelines:

People's Kitchen is a group of volunteers who serve hot, nutritious meals at 12:00 NOON each day at the Prado Day Center. Our goal is to feed homeless individuals with special needs (e.g., with a disability), the working poor and seniors with a limited income. Currently, there appears to be a need to plan for at least 100 meals each time. If less than that comes, seconds are served.

 If you are interested in becoming a part of our group, but are not familiar with the People’s Kitchen, located at the Prado Day Center, we encourage you to visit and observe any day of the week at noon. The Prado Day Center is located at 43 Prado Rd.,SLO 93401.  Introduce yourself to the serving group and tell them of your interest. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

The information below may help you plan your purchasing, preparing and serving:


Plan foods that are easy to eat and serve. It is difficult to cut items on a paper plate. Foods with bite sized pieces of meat, vegetables, pasta and salads work the best. Try to avoid foods with a great deal of sauce. Bowls are available for soups

You will need four - six people to assist in serving depending on the menu.

All food must be prepared before bringing to the serving area so it is necessary to be sure the hot food is served hot. Ideas for keeping food hot:

1. Wrap covered casseroles in several layers of newspaper.

2. Beach towels also work to keep the heat contained.

3Bring food in Styrofoam "coolers" to keep warm.

4. Warmers that pizza delivery people use are also helpful.

Salad Suggestions: You can pre-mix it and bring in two large dishpan sized containers or you may bring the salad ingredients, arrive a little early and prepare them in one of several large containers kept in the serving area.

Milk is the preferred beverage to serve. You will need5 - 6gallons. 2% is fine. Please no soft drinks.

Plates, flatware, napkins, soup bowls, dessert boats and beverage cups are all provided in the serving area. You will need to hand the napkin and necessary flatware to clients.

Serving utensils are always available. When finished, please be sure to wash and hang them on the hooks provided.

Estimates of Food Needed

Main Dish - about one cup per person.

This varies depending on the type of dish served. When in doubt, serve moderate amounts, offering seconds when all have been served and some food remains.

Salad - two dishpans full (3-5 lb. bags of salad mix available at Smart and Final) 
Salad Dressing – about 1.5 quart Ranch is always popular

Milk - 5 gallons
Bread - 6 loaves can be white and wheat (most groups provide buttered bread as a part of the meal)
Margarine - One lb. of spreadable tub margarine.
Desserts are always popular, but not necessary.

Fresh fruit is always welcome. Bananas are easy to serve and eat. The standard grocery store box holds enough for 100 and costs under $20. (A soft fruit is recommended since many clients have dental problems)

Serving Day Suggestions

Check with all the food providers and servers, confirming that all will arrive 10 to 15 minutes before 12 o'clock. Clients waiting to be served are happy to help carry food in from the cars.

Ask servers to provide 1 cup or so of the main dish. As mentioned earlier, this varies depending on the type of dish served. It is always best to serve moderate amounts at first, offering seconds when all have been served and food remains.

 First, serve the person who is designated as "the counter" by the Prado Day Center. This person will record the number served.

 Plan to serve the clients. Do not have them serve themselves. Families with children 12 and under and those with special needs (e.g., unable to stand in line), are served first. The host/hostess will assist.

Plan for one of your group to act as a rover to oversee the whole meal, make adjustments if needed, and generally be available in a variety of places. Arrange to butter the bread slightly ahead of the line movement so there is no wait, bring buttered bread, or serve butter pats.

Fill cups of milk 3/4 to 4/5 full to eliminate spillage. Offer refills until milk is used up.

Please do not leave any left over food. Take it with you for another use. If you do leave food, check with the Prado staff to be sure they will use what you leave.

Ideas for main and secondary hot dishes:

Meatloaf, lasagna and other pastas, tuna casseroles, macaroni and cheese plus additions, mashed potatoes with gravy, scalloped potatoes, rice with sauces, Fruits - fresh or frozen, Vegetables - fresh or frozen, baked potatoes with toppings, hearty soups. Please check the web site for recipes.

10 Rules of Food Safety

1. Store all raw animal foods on the bottom of the refrigerator.  Raw meat, fish, eggs and poultry can drip onto ready-to-eat foods causing potentially fatal foodborne illness.

2.Cool foods quickly.  Don’t let hot foods cool at room temperature … use a shallow pan on the top rack of the refrigerator.  Hot foods should be cooled to 40° F within 2 hours.

3.Don’t thaw frozen foods at room temperature.  Always thaw frozen foods on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator, in the microwave or under cold, running water in less than an hour.

4.Use different cutting boards for raw foods.  Any surface touched by raw animal foods can transfer deadly bacteria, parasites and viruses.  Use a red cutting board only for raw animal foods to avoid cross contamination.

5.Reheat those leftovers to at least 170° F!

6.Wash your hands for 20 seconds!  Poor hygiene, such as not washing hands after touching raw foods, using the toilet, smoking, coughing or touching any contaminated surfaces, is a leading cause of foodborne illness.  Virtually all soaps are “anti-bacterial” – it is friction from scrubbing than actually cleans.

7.Keep it hot, keep it cold … or don’t keep it at all.  Meats, fish, poultry, eggs, sliced melons, rice, beans, tofu and sprouts are all very susceptible to rapid bacteria growth before and after cooking. Food should be kept below 40°F or above 140°F.  Also:  Don’t keep food in the refrigerator longer than 7 days.

8.Cook all food thoroughly.  All animal foods should be cooked to at least 170 ° F to kill bacteria, parasites and viruses which cause foodborne illness.  Use a thermometer with a metal stem to check the temperature immediately after cooking.

9.Buy and eat food at only approved sources.  If you buy bargain food from the “back of a truck” or eat at non-licensed establishments, you’re asking for trouble.

10.When in doubt, throw it out!  If you have any suspicion that a food might be spoiled --- including an uncharacteristic odor or color or damaged packaging – throw it out.  It simply isn’t worth the risk.