(NOTE: This is part of a series of stories focusing on how we work to improve the lives of our guests at Toni's Kitchen.)
"Sherry" (not her real name) has been a guest of Toni's Kitchen since August 2022 when she first came to Choice Pantry. Sherry lives by herself in West Orange and has some chronic medical conditions and mobility issues. In addition to Choice Pantry, she began participating in a number of programs at Toni's Kitchen, including the Food Health Hope (FHH) program focused on controlling one's weight, blood pressure and glucose levels and educational and supportive counseling. Sherry says that she is eating healthier now thanks to the special produce and dry good boxes as well as healthy recipes she receives through the FHH program. She has positively reduced her values related to diabetes and hypertension. Sherry states that she finds the counseling services invaluable and that it is a safe space to talk about challenging issues in her life and start to develop ways to cope better.
In late November Sherry started sharing her love of reading with fellow guests. She shared a flyer for a book swap/sale at her local public library and each week she purchases 12 new, discounted children's books and displays them near the Choice Pantry check-in table for Toni's guests to browse and take. Sherry is an avid reader and states that this is a way that she can give back to others in a way that is meaningful to her and encourages children to read.
Last week Sherry shared that she used the canned beans, onions and peppers that she received at CP and made a big pot of chili that she can enjoy during these cold wintry days. She expressed delight that a caring neighbor of hers voluntarily shoveled her driveway during the last snowfall and although she wanted to give him some of her chili, she thought it would probably be easier to get him a tin of gourmet popcorn instead.