Site Coordinator Jason Todd learned to be a cook from his grandmother. “I was raised by a single mom who worked 2 full-time jobs, so I spent the majority of my time at my grandparents’ house,” he said. His grandmother taught him to cook and sew to prepare him for life. “If you can do these 2 things you can make it through life no matter what is thrown at you,” Jason recounts his grandmother telling him.

Handling what life throws at you is something Jason continues to do at the Aitkin and Palisade dining sites where Jason has been site coordinator since 2017. Located about 125 miles north of the Twin Cities the two dining sites are situated in small towns instead of large cities or suburbs.  The different locale means management of the sites can look and feel different from managing a site in the Twin Cities.  Jason is thankful he has a dedicated and talented band of helpers in the kitchen. Another difference is the kind of meals he serves. “Our guests prefer more meat and potato type meals,” Jason notes.

Recent events mean more meals are being served at the two sites than ever before. According to Jason, Aitkin went from serving 225 meals per week to nearly 350 meals a week, while Palisade went from 75 meals per week to about 180 meals a week.

Living and working in a small town means he knows the guests who come in for a good meal. “I have had family, friends, teachers, previous employers, long time family friends come to our meals,” Jason said knowing the guests means he has a bigger role to fill when he hosts a meal. For him, hosting a meal means cooking for a close friend.

Because he has a strong connection with the guests, Jason hears first-hand how Loaves & Fishes impacts the lives of his neighbors. He shared a story of an elderly widower who enjoys the home-cooked meals provided by Loaves & Fishes which stands in sharp contrast to the microwave dinners he ate in the past. And there is the family with children that is unable to buy groceries until payday later in the week but can come and get several healthy meals to tide them over.

Jason’s grandmother wanted to make sure he could handle whatever life threw at him. In turn, Jason is now able to help people that have had life thrown at them. “I can cook you a wonderful meal and make the apron I wore while doing it,” Jason said.

Grandma’s Sloppy Joes

This is a recipe Jason learned from his grandmother. Try it out and enjoy!

1 lb. of Ground Beef

1 large Red Onion-chopped

2-3 stacks of Celery thinly sliced

1 cup of Ketchup

¼ cup of Yellow Mustard

½ cup of Orange Marmalade Jelly

Salt and Pepper

Brown the ground beef adding salt and pepper to taste.  When it is browned drain any excess grease from meat.  Add all other ingredients to meat mixture, reheat to temp, serve on hamburger buns.

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