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Reedies Cook Spaghetti at Homeless Shelter

By Miles Bryan '13 on November 19, 2012 06:34 PM

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There are few meals more popular amongst Reedies than pasta with red sauce. When the board points are gone and funds are low, a frugal student can turn a few dollars into a dinner hearty enough to sustain them through the wet chill of fall.

On Saturday, SEEDS (Students for Education, Empowerment, and Direct Service) organized a trip to a homeless shelter in Northeast Portland where students could employ their pasta expertise to help the less fortunate by cooking a giant feast.

Nine Reedies joined the trip; each had their own reason for being there: Taylor Stinchcomb '14 was too busy to make it to the last trip, and missed the sense of community; Sydney Scarlata '16 was excited for SEEDS because her high school back in Chicago did not offer community service. Many of the students named trip leader Amina Rahman '14 as an inspiration. Amina has been single-handedly organizing SEEDS trips since the beginning of the year. She also has a cool head, which she put to use as soon as students arrived at the shelter. SEEDS had connected with the shelter through Human Services, a Portland outreach organization. Someone from Human Services was supposed to meet the SEEDS group. When they did not show up, Amina had to do some quick negotiations with the shelter's supervisor, who was thoroughly confused by the sudden arrival of a bunch of fresh-faced college students. Thankfully, almost nobody is put off by the prospect of a good meal, and the Reedies quickly got to work.

Located inside the Parkrose Community United Church of Christ on NE Halsey Street, the Family Winter Shelter offers a meal and a bed to anyone who needs one.

How much does it cost to feed 70 people? That night the answer was $99.90—a bargain only a college student could find. The meal itself was not frugal at all: red sauce with zucchini, onions, and beef smothered rich pasta, accompanied by steamed green beans covered in butter and garlic. It was rich and filling, which was exactly what the people who streamed in out of the rain wanted. There were more children than adults at the shelter, and they bounced around with renewed energy after eating, filling the room with screams and laughter, until it sounded less like a shelter than a park.

Tawni was one of the mothers with her children that night. She relaxed as her kids played games with the green beans. She said she did not come to the shelter often, and never stayed the night. But sometimes it means a lot to eat a good meal. "You guys are great," she said, "this is not a small thing."