Report to Relief Fund for Romania

From Estuar Foundation - Bucharest Social Center



Cooking Time activity began in November, when the renovation of the Social Centre finished. This renovation lasted longer than it was planned to because our users wanted to be involved and to participate in this project actively. Because of this involvement, some of them learned to paint and to do small repairs.

On 1st November, during the biweekly meeting with the users, we announced the beginning of the "Cooking Time " activity and the fact that all the users who come to the Social Centre will have a meal (45 persons)

"Cooking Time" activity is one of the most important activities for our users, because their incomes seldom rise above the minimun level of subsistence. The positive effects this activity will bring in their lives, both by eating the meals and by acquiring new personal abilities for the users who do not know how to prepare a warm meal, will have as a result the increase of the independence and the quality of their lives.

During the bemonthly meetings with the users, we discussed the fact that their work would help other 45 persons to have lunch at least 2 times a week. At the meeting, we also discussed the dishes that the users wanted to be prepared during the "Cooking Time". The usres proposed that the "Cooking Time" would take place on Tuesdeys and Thursdays.

Decebal Voiculescu, who is a social worker in the Social Centre and has a cook diploma, is responsible from the staff. 12 users were interested in participating in this activity. In order to involve all the participants and to create the conditions of a learning process, there were created 2 teams of 6 users each. In establishing the number of the users for each team, the conditions and the space in the kitchen were taken into account.

After establishing the teams, we began the activity. The users were taught the hygiene rules and the safety of work by Decebal. The shopping for this activity is done by the users who participate in the "Cooking Time", supervised by Decebal.

Since November, every Tuesday and Thursday, we cook food for 45 users. A team of 6 people works on Tuesday, and the other team on Thursday.

As to the prepared menu, we tried to diversify the dishes as much as we could, and this thing was appreciated both by the users who participate in the "Cooking Time", because they had opportunity to learn how to prepare more dishes and by the users who had lunchin the canteen of the Social Centre.

During the "Cooking Time" activity, people follow a working plan, that was established formerly. The activity begins with the personal hygiene of the users who are involved in this activity (washing their hands, etc.). Then, they wash up the dishes that are to be used. They clean the area, the table, they take the necessary tools and they are told some of the safety rules again (i.e. they must be careful when using the knives or the cooker.)

There are 3 teams of two users each in order to increase the efficiency and ensure the covering of the whole process of preparing the meal. Decebal explains, in detail, the technological process and every team chooses the stages it will cover.

A team prepares and slices the meat, another team washes the vegetables, the last one fries the onion or the meat etc. Each team changes its duties and its members every week, so that those who participate could go further through the whole process of preparing the meal. When the meal is ready, one of the teams sets the tables, another team clears the tables and cleans the canteen after than the users eat, and the third one does the washing up.

The meal is served in the canteen of the Social Center , which has a capacity of 24 seats. That is why there are two series of users who have lunch. The dishes that were served were i.e. pilaw with mushrooms and olives, beans with sausages, pasta, peas with meat, vegetables soup, pork soup etc.

The users attend the "Cooking Time" with great pleasure, because they don't only learn to cook, but at the end they also receive the gratitude of the other users, who are the best examining board for them. Furthermore, by working together and supporting each other, there is an increasing of the initiative, opening and communication between them. Now, many of them bring their own recipes they find in different magazines or cookery books and they discuss them in the group.

On the other hand, the meal offered as a result of the "Cooking Time" is very appreciated by the other users, who have the certainly that they have a nourishing meal, at last twice a week.

From the beginnings of this activity, we noticed that the number of the users who come to the Social Center has increased on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If the average is of approximately 48 users a day, Tuesday and Thursday the number of the users increases to 55-60.

This made us increase the number of the portions, without affecting the quality of the meal and without needing further founds, by carefully selecting the stores where we do this shopping.

The activity of preparing the meal during the "Cooking Time" begans at 9 a.m. because some dishes need more time to be ready, and lunch is served at 12.30.

In the first two weeks there were some difficulties concerning the quantities that were used and the number of users who had lunch, but every time the users who cook prepared a little more food, so that every user of the Social Center could have a warm meal that day.

In order to replace the plates that are sometimes broken, we managed to receive a donation of 3 sets of 12 plates each, from one of our volunteers.

Concerning the last week of December, because the Social Center will be closed from 20 December, we decided to organize a traditional Christmas lunch for the users of the Social Center (we estimate to participate about 150 users), that will take place on 19th December, at 13.00, in the Social Center.

The users asked me to Thank You for the help you offered them with this project, and also wish you Mary Christmas and A Happy New Year.

Florjan Koleci
Coordinator of the Social Center


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