Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Outside the Bowl: Tijuana Super Kitchen Visit

I've mentioned Outside the Bowl on here a couple times, but in case you are new to the blog (which, if that's the case, please let me say WELCOME and THANK YOU for taking some of your precious time to pop over and check out what's going on in the land of Carlee McDot ;)) or need a refresher, let me give you a quick run-down.

The hubby and I first learned about Outside the Bowl years ago through North Coast Church. The Edge, the specific venue we attend, has "adopted" this organization as our own and we do our best to support them and their mission. OTB is dedicated to eliminating physical and spiritual starvation in impoverished communities by building Super Kitchens, and working with established community partners to serve hot, nutritious meals to those who need them most.


Outside the Bowl currently has seven Super Kitchens - two in Haiti, three in Mexico and two in South Africa. 


Not only have we been financially involved, but we've also been "on the ground" with them. A few years ago (oh my goodness... it's already been over SEVEN YEARS) I was at church and we were singing a worship song - "I Will Go" by Starfield. If you know the song (or have 3 minutes to listen below), you may know where this story is leading.

At that point I knew the Lord was pulling on my hearts strings, telling me I needed to just "go"... And go to HAITI! In case you didn't do the math, the major earthquake which hit Port-au-Prince occurred right around that time. I ended up joining a team headed to the Outside the Bowl Super Kitchen in Port au Paix that July to help in any way I could.

We put on a Vacation Bible School

If you want to read about the experience, you can check out the blog I created for the trip (mind you, this was seven years ago, so the blog itself is pretty rough, but I did type up my daily journal entries for your reading pleasure) HERE.

We also did a few sports camps

The hubby didn't go on the trip with me, but has found other ways to help... like volunteering his time and artistic abilities to design their Annual Reports for the past couple years. Well, as a thank you, Debra (one of the co-founders) and Becky (the development director) took us out to lunch last week. While chatting about OTB, they said they were heading down to the Tijuana Super Kitchen in a couple days and asked if we wanted to come along. HECK TO THE YES! 

So, this morning we met at the Outside the Bowl office and made our way across the border to Tijuana.

Passport in hand, waiver signed!

Ready to hit the road and see the Tijuana kitchen!

Like I said, I'd already seen a Super Kitchen, but I was stoked that the hubby was getting the experience to see one not only up close and personal, but in action! It's one thing to watch the video clips and hear the stories, but it's another to be there and see it all (especially since we've been supporters and involved with OTB for so long).

A normal day in the Tijuana Super Kitchen starts around 4:30am where the staff (and volunteers) begin making the meal. Normally by 8 or 9am the food (which includes a primary dish and side/ complimentary dish) is ready, divvied up and sent out the door to the different partners. As the drivers are delivering all of the food, the kitchen staff is cleaning and starting to prep for the following day.

When we got there around 10am, everything was on its way to be distributed and the crew was prepping for tomorrow's meal. After we arrived, we were given a tour and they were kind enough to serve us a little lunch (a potato soup with sautéed nopales (cactus) and fresh squeeze watermelon). Um.... SCRUM-DIDILY-UMPTIOUS! The soup had "a little pork" in it, so Ryan and I opted out, but everyone else loved it and everything we had was DELISH!

Isn't it crazy when you think you are going somewhere to bless others and they bless you instead?!


We were even able to head over to one of the nearby feeding programs (which feeds students either on their way to or from school {apparently there is a teacher shortage in Tijuana, so kids go half days - either in the morning or in the afternoon - so some kids were done with class for the day while others were on their way to start}).

This feeding program even bought a shipping container from OTB to use as their hub!

The Tijuana kitchen was the first test of the "container" model design. They used two 40 foot containers (picture the containers on the back of a semi truck) and one 20 foot container to make make a U shape for the three exterior walls. One of the large containers is for the dry storage and the other is for the refrigeration/ freezer (they have it split in half). The smaller container houses the kitchen office, washer and dryer, restroom, water filtration, etc.

Can you tell the two sides are shipping containers?

See?! I wasn't lying to ya!

It's a "kitchen in a box". You can pack everything in the containers (all of the building materials go in the dry storage container while all of the kitchen equipment is packed into the refrigerated container) and ship it wherever - all you need to do is unload the trucks, pour a slab of concrete in between, add a front wall and roof, and you are ready to go!

This is some of the storage in the dry goods container

The steam-jacked electric kettles are the stars of the show!

Some of the produce in the container cooler

The way that the process works is that OTB teams up with feeding programs (ones that are already in place - whether it be a church, a school, a community program, an orphanage, a hospital, etc) and can offer food at a higher quality and lower price (because they are working with larger scale so can buy in bulk, leverage wholesale pricing, etc).

I love that the menus rotate based on what's in season and plentiful!

Buying in bulk saves money!

I love that they use the "seconds" or "uglies" to keep costs low... They may
not look perfect, but you better believe they still taste like perfection!

This allows the feeding programs to do what they are best at.... FEEDING! With more resources (because they are saving money on the product and time on not having to cook), they can grow their programs, feed more children, etc.

The smaller of the three steam-jacked electric kettles they use for cooking

And OTB isn't doing it just to feel good about themselves (although, if you ask me, they're AMAZING), they want to impact not only the lives of the people they feed, but also the communities. They set up businesses for the Super Kitchens that pay local taxes, hire local employees (with great salaries and benefits), source their products locally, etc.

Some of the hills around the feeding program we visited

Once a kitchen is up and going, the goal is to make it profitable enough to be able to start funding for the next Super Kitchen so that they are self-sustaining and regenerating (so technically the donors who give to help fund one kitchen have an even bigger impact because that money is then used to build the next and the next and so on)!

A map of Tijuana County and some of the feeding programs that OTB is assisting with

Now I know your name may not be on this organization (do not feel guilty or pressured at all, we know that this is something God put on our heart, but not everyone is called to help in the same areas or in the same way), but if it is I wanted to give you the info so you could find out more and potentially donate resources if you're so inclined.


And follow them on whichever social media platforms you are on to stay "in the know" on what's going on with them!

               Website: http://www.outsidethebowl.org/
               Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/outsidethebowl
               Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/outsidethebowl/
               Twitter: https://twitter.com/outsidethebowl_
               YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/OTB

If you have any questions, please let me know! If I can't answer whatever you wanna know, I know the people who can!

Have you ever felt "called" to go somewhere?

1 comment:

Adam C said...

This is great! You should do the tours of the kitchens...