People's Kitchen

Sophie was unhappy working for HOT TV. She knew that it served a purpose, giving single mothers a way to earn a living in otherwise job-scarce Lucerne; but there had to be a better way to use her talents as a producer. There also had to be a better way to use The Place – the renovated car park at the centre of the village – than filling it with girls in hot pants and bra tops.

She’d developed a concept called TOT TV, where the girls focussed on activities to entertain their young children, but it hadn’t acquired traction. It seemed that the greater demand right now was not for colourful boards with snakes and ladders, but for neon skimpies with shakes and judders.

The Place had really been smartened up, with water features spouting and sparkling, and spiky plants with bright flowers, but that was only the smiling centre, where happy families came to chat, stroll and snack. During her daily filming, Sophie noticed a ragged edge to the village. People on the margins of this community were struggling. The HOT TV girls had found one way of coping, but others daily visited gas stations, hardware and grocery stores asking for non-existent jobs. There was poverty and hunger here, leading to desperation.

As Sophie shot vignettes about how much fun it was to live in Lucerne, continually shouting “Action!” and “Cut!” – she developed a feeling of unease. She saw affluent families, a mix of locals and visitors, enjoying The Place’s new retail and dining options. Yet on the edge of this showpiece “communal” space, just out of view, hungry eyes were peering. Families at leisure wasted food; as soon as they left, but before the cleaning crews, swift hands pulled it into the shadows.

Restaurants around the square also wasted food. To attract the widest range of customers they featured extensive menus, with local, national, international and seasonal dishes. This required vast ingredient stocks, not all of which were used. The Authority’s health and safety regulations forbade re-use of ingredients. They were thrown into large bins that were locked immediately, for retrieval only by trash crews.

Sophie asked one of the girls, Jeannie, “Is there something we can do about this? It’s ridiculous that there are people hungry every day, and food gets wasted before our eyes.”

“I was chatting with the other girls,” said Jeannie. “We were thinking of cooking for everyone.”

“What do you mean by everyone?” said Sophie. “You mean the general public?”

“Yes, we could approach the restaurants for spare ingredients…” Sophie tried to interrupt but Jeannie kept talking; it was this determination that kept her dancing like a monkey in front of rolling cameras to feed her child. “I’m sure they would find a way around the regulations. Say once a month, we could have a People’s Kitchen, where we cook up whatever we have, and people bring whatever they can, and we all eat together.”

“Like a huge potluck?” said Sophie.

“Yes, but it’s not a matter of luck. It’s a matter of intention.” Sophie was impressed by her thinking and agreed to help.

On the last day of the month, when restaurants rotated their ingredient stocks, the HOT TV girls wandered around collecting ingredients, and developed recipe plans based on their haul. The next evening at the centre of The Place, they set up the People’s Kitchen and cooked dinner for everyone. Their free ingredients, with added herbs and spices, made fabulous stews, stir-fries, curries and roasts, accompanied by some salads and sweets.

“I have an idea,” said Jeannie. “Let’s make a monthly show to highlight what we are doing here, called LOT TV.” Sophie nodded her head upward indicating the need for further explanation. Jeannie said, “We were chatting while we were cooking. We believe in the Laws of Karma and Attraction. The more everybody gives, the more we all have.”

I underestimated them, thought Sophie. These HOT TV girls are on fire.

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