Slow Cooker Green Chile Beef Stew with Bacon on Cheddar Potatoes

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I cooked Monday for Inter-Faith Hospitality network (IHN) families; it’s something I’ve done for years at more than one church.  It’s a way of living life that makes a lot of sense to me; I like to cook and there are people who need dinner.  Here in Colorado Springs at First Congregational Church, we bring already cooked or nearly finished complete meals to a church kitchen where families without physical homes gather, eat dinner with us, and then spend the night.  A group of churches and temples work together and the homeless people spend a week at one place and then move to another while awaiting jobs and/or permanent housing.  It gives all of the congregations a chance to participate without burdening any one financially or otherwise with the full-time housing of the ever-changing group.

Typically, but not always, a dinner coordinator makes contact a couple of months ahead and asks what I’d like to make; for other churches there’s a set menu for each week.  The families aren’t the same, so it doesn’t matter if there’s meat loaf on Monday and chicken with rice on Tuesdays, etc. every time.  That gives the dinner coordinator a repeating group of  tasks that the volunteers become used to.  For instance, if I’m a shopping volunteer, I might know that every two months I’ll make a run to Costco for fresh milk, ground beef, chicken pieces, broccoli, spinach, etc.  Once a year, I might need to buy paper napkins and cocoa mix. If I’m a cooking volunteer and I’m scheduled for Wednesday, I know I’ll be making baked potatoes with toppings.  I find I like both options, though the latter gives me time to spend with other volunteers cooking in the kitchen rather than fixing food on my own at home.

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