Sharing our Breakfast with Martin Luther King Food Pantry in Newport, RI

The Martin Luther King Center in Newport, RI provides service in all manner of ways for those in need. One way is through their Food Pantry, and during the week it feeds breakfast to many every morning. Club members gathered to learn how to make a breakfast strata, enjoy the meal themselves, and then bake enough to feed 80 people the coming week.

This past Sunday morning, the Culinary Arts club walked down Cory’s Lane to Mrs. Bonin’s house after Church to cook a nutritious breakfast for the Breakfast Program at the Martin Luther King Community Center in Newport. The MLK Center offers many services to the Newport community such as both local and mobile food pantries, a free breakfast program for Newport residents, veggie days, holiday meals and as well as education programs throughout the year. By cooking for their Breakfast Program, we were able to provide some of the less fortunate people of Newport with a meal that they otherwise may have gone without, as breakfast often ends up being the first meal skipped although it is arguably the most important.

            We decided to make a “strata,” a dish I had never heard of before–much less tasted–but luckily for me (as well as the rest of the club), Mrs. Bonin prepared a platter in advance for us to taste ourselves. A strata is a simple dish made from cubed bread, eggs, and milk somewhere between French toast and bread pudding. Any number of fun ingredients could be added such as cheese, spices like mustard and paprika, and meats like we did. As this was the club’s first time cooking for ourselves this year, this was an especially good dish to start off with because of how forgiving the recipe is; if you add too much of one ingredient, it doesn’t effect the quality of the food in the end. The strata is also made from simple ingredients, so it is easy for the MLK Center to recreate, produce in bulk, and store. As we prepared the dish, Mrs. Bonin taught us the ins-and-outs of working in a kitchen and how to use cutlery and other kitchen tools properly.

            Overall, cooking for the MLK center was such a refreshing experience. There is something about doing simple gratuitous acts for others, like cooking, which revitalizes and lifts the soul, especially when the stress of the last few weeks before exams is bearing down on you. As someone who lives in Newport and personally knows people who use the MLK Center for many different reasons, I appreciate the importance of helping out programs like this and know how beneficial they are to the people of the community. Not only did we learn about the basics of working in the kitchen but also how cooking can help people in times of need. –-Lily Sones ’21

This year the club includes more community service opportunities. The second act of service that the club engaged in was with the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center. The MLK Community Center supports those in need in the Newport county. The center focuses on many areas, one being the fight against hunger. This past Sunday, members of the club participated in cooking food to send to the MLK center.

            We gathered in Mrs. Bonin’s home to enjoy a delicious breakfast that consisted of fruit salad, cinnamon buns, and strata, which was the dish we were making for the community center. Once we were done eating we began the cooking process. Everyone gathered around the kitchen island where we began to prepare the ingredients for the strata, a bread, cheese, egg, and milk casserole. Some people were cutting bread, others were grating the cheese or making the egg and milk mixture. We prepped the pans to assemble the layers of bread, cheese, the egg mixture, and sausage that was already cooked for us. And with that, the strata was done! It was such a nice experience to be the kitchen with friends and coming together to cook, as well as knowing the dishes would be shared and enjoyed by those of the MLK center.– Teresa Billings ’20

On Sunday, the Culinary Arts Club had a delicious morning baking several strata dishes for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center. The MLK Center is a nonprofit organization that helps local families in need of food, clothes, gifts during Christmas and education for young children all within 8.8 miles of our school. We started our day off tasting both a pre-made plain cheese strata and a bacon and sausage strata and then began to prepare the dish. Strata has four main ingredients which include bread, cheese, milk, and eggs, but the great thing about this dish is that you can add or eliminate anything! Being able to provide a warm and comforting meal to those that are less fortunate meant so much to me and put into perspective the need for this amazing agency here on Aquidneck Island. –-Julia Sisk ’21

Food is meant to be shared. As members of a community whose mission encourages students to foster reverence for the human person, the culinary club engaged in a service project this past Sunday. We all gathered after mass on Sunday to make strata for the MLK Center in Newport. Strata is a delicious egg, milk and bread-based casserole. The beauty of the recipe is the ability to add any variety of cheese, spice blends and meat. We made a sausage and cheddar strata with a basic spice blend consisting of mustard, salt and pepper. First, we got to sample what we were making and enjoy a delicious brunch all together. Then after we were full, we dove into making them and learned knife techniques and many tips and tricks about how to create a successful kitchen environment. These casseroles will be brought to the center and be served for breakfast. The MLK Center was founded as an independent non-profit in 1922 and it is a central service provider for at-risk individuals, families and seniors. They aim to fight hunger, support families, promote health and foster education. Every day they provide daily meals for the community. The Abbey has worked with the center previously to raise money as they do an amazing job improving our community.  Madelyn Knudsen ’20

The Martin Luther King Jr. soup kitchen in Newport Rhode Island fights hunger for all ages in the Rhode Island Community. The MLK center does much more than feeding the community. MLK also educates the public on nutrition counseling and wellness classes, and the Center offers educational help to students while providing them a meal. Adults can receive assistance with their income tax, and the center even provides Christmas presents to the children.

On Sunday, November 10th, the Abbey Culinary Club came together to prepare breakfast for the center. We were first treated to a wonderful breakfast, giving us a preview of what we would be making that day. After our breakfast we set to work; Mrs. Bonin began with teaching us the basic skills, such as using a knife. She also showed us the essential tools and tricks of cooking. As a team, we prepared around 8 trays of an egg bake made with egg, cheese, milk, spices, and bread. The recipe was super simple, and I can see myself making it in the future. Creating the bake was worthwhile knowing that we were helping those in need, and bonded while we made it.–Emma Alexander ’20

After mass, I made the trek down Cory’s Lane to Mrs. Bonin’s home to prepare breakfast for the food pantry of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport. The initial steps in preparing the Italian dish, called “strata,” were slicing up loaves of bread, grating cheese, and buttering the aluminum pans we would cook it in. We put 8 cups of bread in each pan, then cracked 9 eggs and poured out 2⅔ cups of milk into bowls, adding spices and whisking the contents together before pouring them into our pans. We sprinkled cheese in and added sausage to the pans, and stirred sausage, cheese, egg mixture, and bread together for an even spread in the pan. We fortunately knew exactly what the food would taste like, since our host had so kindly prepared the dish as our breakfast. I’m glad that our experience was not only fun and educational, but also benefited the people in our community who don’t have three meals everyday.–Jamie Shipman ’21

This past weekend the Culinary Club got together for a really great cause. We all arrived to Ms.Bonin’s house greeted by a table full of food. We had fruit salad, cinnamon buns and strata. Everyone enjoyed their food for a little while before we washed our hands and made own strata. Most of us started out by cutting bread and then people moved on to their own jobs. For me, it was grating cheese. Other people were buttering pans, cracking eggs, and measuring out spices. At the end when we put everyone’s jobs together, we got stratas! Ms. Bonin later in the week brought them down to the MLK center in Newport, a place I have been lucky enough to volunteer at myself. I hope the work we all put in put a smile on someone else’s face. –Emma Kerr ’20

On Sunday, November 10th, some of the Culinary Club members gathered together to make a delightful breakfast dish that later on would be served to the Martin Luther King Center. Before any cooking could start, we had a great breakfast where we all got to eat what we were about to make, delicious strata! Fresh pieces of bread cut into small squares drenched in a milk-egg mixture with tasteful spices all covered with layers of cheese and incredible sausage, this gets left out for a while so the bread can soak everything up then it goes into the oven and what your left with is a mouth watering dish. The entire purpose of making the strata was to make sure the less fortunate get a delicious breakfast. All of the strata we made got sent over to the MLK Community Center, which is a non-profit organization that fights hunger and helps support families in the Newport County of Rhode Island. They help families that are in need of food, clothes, education, and even Christmas gifts! Being able to help some of the local families by making sure they have food on their plate in the morning means a lot, and I couldn’t be happier that I was part of this experience. —Ellie Richards ’21

As members of the Culinary Club assembled together on Sunday, November 10, we baked eight batches of strata for the MLK Center in Newport, RI. The MLK Center is a community center for helping children and others by fighting for hunger, helping with education, and much more. This was an amazing experience to come together not only to learn how to make Strata, but to do this for a great cause. I am thankful that we could come together and make this happen, knowing that we are feeding those who need food most.--Crystal Chojnowski ’20