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Volunteering at Miriam’s Kitchen for MLK day with the Peace Corps and Boeing

Due to some unfortunate circumstances this year, I found myself stuck in DC over Christmas, away from family, so I reached out to several local food banks hoping that I might be able to make the best of a bad situation by photographing their work that day. Unfortunately, due to the short notice, I wasn’t able to line up any gigs in time, but it did get me in touch with the wonderful people at Miriam’s Kitchen. After a few e-mails back and forth, we finally decided on MLK day as a good time to have me come in to document their preparations of the night’s meal. It wasn’t until I got on site, though, that I found out that the volunteers for that evening weren’t just a mish-mash of individuals but two small groups of employees from Boeing and the Peace Corps. I quickly learned to keep an eye out for Aaron S. Williams, who happens to be the Director of the Peace Corps.  What I didn’t realize until I got home, though, was that “Carrie,” one of the volunteers with whom I chatted briefly, was none other than Deputy Director, Carrie Hessler-Radelet.  For all I know, we could have had the design team for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner but there was no time for glad handing, particularly once the plastic food-service gloves went on.

Needless to say, it was a frenetic hour and a half, but the entire crew did an amazing job of putting out a delicious fried chicken meal, one that surely rivaled the best restaurants in the city. Sauteed squash and onions, rosemary potatoes with roasted red peppers, green salad, fruit salad, and even a separate dessert, rounded out the meal. Chef John Murphy was cool as a cucumber, delegating tasks to all of the volunteers that swirled around him. His lieutenant, Emery (I hope I’m spelling that right), was an absolute dynamo, pulling out tray after tray of piping hot chicken without breaking stride, nor losing her train of thought in conversation. Thanks to Ruth, Mike, Thea, Theresa, Tim, Mariela (?), David, Rosa, Claudia (and all of the other volunteers and staff that I’m missing) for putting up with having my camera in your faces.

Ashley, my contact at Miriam’s, asked me to try to capture the “fresh,” “nutritious” qualities of the meals that they serve.  With the food that everyone produced, it was merely a matter of clicking the shutter.  Thanks to everyone at Miriam’s Kitchen for your hospitality and I hope that all of you out there had as rewarding a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as I did.


Staff doing some advanced planning

Seasonal Food Calendar

The spices await

Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams jokes around with chef John Murphy

Peace Corps deputy director Carrie Hessler-Radelet chats with chef John Murphy while they prepare the salad

Delicious salad

Fruit salad

Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams heads off the serving line