“By doing service, you purify your heart. Egoism, hatred, jealousy, idea of superiority vanish. Humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance, and mercy are developed. Sense of separateness is annihilated. Selfishness is eradicated…You begin to feel oneness or unity of life. You develop a broad heart with broad, generous views. Eventually, you get Knowledge of the Self.” ― Swami Sivananda
Last month for the holiday season, Yoga District members were given the opportunity to volunteer with DC Central Kitchen for an evening meal prep shift. A large group of yogis participated! Hear from YD teacher, Kelly B., about the experience here (and keep an eye out for the next volunteer date under the “Workshops and Specials” section of the Yoga District website, or sign up with DCCK directly!).
As I sit down to write these words it is a new year, and December 23rd feels very far away. And yet, if I close my eyes and turn on some Herbie Hancock tunes, I’m transported back to D.C. Central Kitchen, chopping up bell peppers.
“You like Jazz music?” chef William of DCCK asked as a group of us assumed our post in front of chopping boards, chef’s knives in hand, gloves on, aprons on, hair nets in place to tackle the vegetables before us. So, it was jazz music that set the rhythm for our evening of slicing and dicing.
That night, 14 of us from the Yoga District community gathered to volunteer for the evening meal prep. When we arrived, we watched a short training video, met with the wonderful, warm and hilarious staff there and suited up for our various tasks. Our 3-hour shift including lots of chopping—carrots, peppers, green beans—and lemon zesting, too.
Admittedly, I struggle to find the meditation in cooking at home. I am constantly trying to multi-task and perpetually burning pans, taking short-cuts, becoming distracted. But at DCCK, it was nice to find myself so intently focused on a single task. The repetition and the focus was therapeutic. Not to mention the sense of tiny accomplishment—but accomplishment nonetheless!—as you gaze finally at a mountain of chopped vegetables.
Because the food is all donated, it’s not always pristine—there are spots and such to cut around. But I was surprised to see just how much we got out of it and then of course delighted at the sheer volume of food waste that was prevented and ultimately turned into delicious, healthy, fresh meals for the individuals that DCCK serves – 5,000 people a day, in fact. Because that’s of utmost importance to DCCK’s operation: they believe that all people deserve healthy, dignified food, but they also believe in training people for jobs that will give them economic opportunity. Their mission is to use food to “strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities.” Sounds a lot like why we practice yoga, too, right?
This was my first time at DCCK, and I’ve already signed up for a shift/month for the next few months. The community that they’ve built is admirable and the work they do is so important, I can’t recommend their volunteer program enough. If you have the time, please check out their calendar to sign up online (keep in mind that shifts fill up quickly!), or keep an eye out at Yoga District for future outings that we organize. It is an amazing way to serve and honor the wonderful D.C. community that we live in.