Tilting at Skillets

May 5, 2016

The Pope’s visit was several months ago, but the impact of his time in Philadelphia is still being felt at BSM today. In honor of Pope Francis a number of local philanthropists set up The Francis Fund. They then encouraged more than fifty non-profits who work with vulnerable individuals and families in the Philadelphia area to apply for grants to fill immediate unmet needs. When BSM’s management team asked the kitchen staff what they would like us to apply for, they immediately said, That’s a no brainer, a tilt skillet! Like most leaders of organizations, the management team acted as if they knew what that was (and then of course googled “tilt skillet”).

Iyesha Brown, one of BSM’s cooks, prepares a meal in the new tilt skillet

And then the tilt skillet arrived, and everything changed.

The kitchen team will prepare more than 80,000 meals this year for close to 7,000 unduplicated guests.  And although each plate is served to our guests by volunteers one at a time, the meals themselves need to be coked in large batches. In pre-tilt skillet days, these batches were small ones. It often took an hour and a half or longer to prepare a meal. The staff struggled (successfully as it happened in most cases) to keep the batches warm before they were delivered to the dining room. Now a meal of that size can be cooked in one batch in as little as fifteen minutes. So that struggle is finally over.

All of us at BSM are grateful to Sister Mary Scullion from Project HOME for spearheading and coordinating The Francis Fund, and to all the generous benefactors who contributed to that fund. The papal visit, while lasting just a few days, will be felt by our kitchen staff, and most importantly, by our guests for many years to come.