Here’s a secret for you: I meditate every day. I pause, lay-down and thank the world for the opportunities I have. I recognize that I have been gifted many things (today, for example) and that I’m very fortunate. I often think about ‘the current hurdle’ and ask for clarity and guidance ‘that the answer becomes clear to me’, and that I have the courage to move forward with ‘the right thing to do’. And then, often, I get so comfortable and relaxed, I fall asleep.
One day when our sales were plummeting (due to complications from COVID-19) I went and laid down, like I normally do. I thought, ‘we’re so fortunate to have the kitchen, an established customer base, our health, our youth – what can we do to get through this?’ ‘I hope there is some way we can help our customers through this and that we all grow together, with minimal loss (of people). And if we do experience loss, that we can be there for each other.’ I fell asleep and woke up with the idea of providing the meals at cost. It’s seems like a ‘risky’ move, but what really, are we risking? Our ‘profits’ are pretty low to start with and we owe people money, so it’s not really ‘profit’. I wasn’t sure what to do, but that’s what I mean by a ‘message’ (message 1). Something that I’m supposed to use for guidance.
I came into the kitchen reviewing this idea in my head as I went about our regularly scheduled business. I was thinking ‘why am I going about our regularly scheduled business when business is not regular?. This (our regularly scheduled program) is NOT what the customer wants or needs right now.’ That seemed pretty clear by our sales.
I turned on the podcast I follow the most (right now, AKIMBO) and what my brain-filter caught was: ‘These are not normal times. This is where you find out what your customer needs and GIVE it to them.’ This man speaks with GREAT emphasis on some words. Sometimes he uses cadence and volume to put great emphasis on some phrases. It’s beautiful. Continuing: ‘you’ve built a customer base and you’ve built trust. They trust you. These people have given you the privilege to serve them and THIS allows you to do your craft. If you have the integrity you think you do, ‘Give it away’’. I think (but I refuse to check) he said: ‘If you’re in the business of helping people, figure out what they need, for help, and make that your priority. If you’re not in the business of helping people, close your doors and go volunteer for someone who is in the business of helping people.’ That was message number two from the world, or at least that’s how I processed it.
I came out of the kitchen to the computer and started looking at the ‘free-restaurant’ models out there in the world. There are ‘pay what you can’ restaurants, there are people donating their wages to stay open, there are people donating their wages to feed the less fortunate. This is a time of mass giving. There is GREAT generosity in the world and it’s not just monetary. There has been great generosity going around for a long time, but it just became obvious to me: people are giving away time, entertainment, knowledge, comfort, and sometimes very rich people throw crumbs at the poor. Money cannot fix a lot of things. That was message number three, and the last part of the puzzle.
Here’s what the whole picture looked like to me at that moment: People have given us the privilege to serve them. In doing so we’ve (quite unintentionally) become good at making packaged healthy foods. We’re set up for it. They now need us to provide healthy packaged foods for them and the people they care about. It’s the least we can do.
Later that day the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) Coordinator showed up and said ‘the hospital is no longer making meals for our ‘Meals on Wheels’ program. What could you do? Do you have any interest?’ (Message number 4) – No Brainer! Let’s do this!