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By Lois Wenger

Are you an early riser?  Do you like to watch people enjoy eating what youve prepared?  Do you enjoy the challenge of creating varied, nutritious meals on time?  Perhaps you have what it takes to be an MDS cook!

The Head Cook thinks about, plans, and decides many things, long before the alarm rings that first Monday morning.  Menu planning.  Shopping.  Learning the layout and availability of items at an unfamiliar grocery.  Storing groceries.  Becoming familiar with the kitchen and its equipment.  Pondering the needs of special diets.  Wondering if the volunteers will like the menu!

On an MDS site, the cooks are usually the first ones up in the morning.  That way the coffee can be ready, the lunches packed, and the breakfast served at 7:00 sharp.

But once breakfast is over and the kitchen tidied, the day is up for grabs.  In addition to fixing the evening meal, the day could be spent for shopping, or stocking up on homemade cookies, or reorganizing the kitchen to fit your style.

Or maybe the supper is an easy, make-ahead type.  Then some of the day can be spent outside the kitchen, working on the jobsite.  If that is not to your liking, you might take a tasty snack to the other volunteers to brighten their day and expand your horizons.  Both activities are appreciated if you find you have a little extra time on your hands.

"I hope this accurately describes the joys and challenges of being a cook—and maybe I’ll see you in the kitchen!"

— Lois Wenger, a frequent MDS volunteer

Naps are good, too, because days are long.  After supper, there is evening report”; and even though the other volunteers pitch in with kitchen clean-up, there is always food to put away and decisions to be made about the morrows breakfast and lunch.

The leadership volunteers (Project Director, Office Manager, Crew Leaders, and Cooks) all work together as a team to make the MDS experience a success.  Any problems go directly to the Project Director.  A closer relationship usually develops between the Office Manager and Cooks because, although working in their separate spheres, they work at the base camp most of the time.

The Head Cook makes many decisions, both before and during the weeks of cooking. If you sign up as the Assistant Cook, you get to join in on the fun and work together with the Head Cook to prepare wonderful meals for MDS volunteers.

I hope this accurately describes the joys and challenges of being a cook—and maybe Ill see you in the kitchen!

Lois Wenger, a frequent MDS volunteer, lives Port Henry, New York.

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