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Offering to Bring Food to an Event

Bringing healthy food to events is a powerful way to support an organization and make a difference. You will save them money, which is as powerful as writing a check. You will help people have a healthy meal and perhaps inspire them to eat other healthy food later. You can help the organization and other participants see how their goals can be advanced by voting with their forks.

food at an event brought for a buffet including vegan Cuban black beans, roasted squash, and chopped red bell pepper

I'm sharing an example of how I offered to cook food for an event tomorrow, how we worked out the details, and how I'll cook the food and serve it safely. At the bottom, you'll see that I ran the numbers. For a $22 investment, I'm saving the group over $100. Feel free to use any of this when you spot a chance to bring food for a group.

Example Email: Offering to Bring Food

Dear Organizer: Are you planning to serve lunch at the training on Saturday? If you are and if you don't already have plant-based options lined up, I'd be happy to contribute. [Start with a clear offer to help.]

I could bring a slow cooker of black beans, a rice cooker with brown rice, raw veggie toppings, and a dessert. (I mention the containers because we could plug these in so the rice and beans stay hot.) If needed, I could bring the sturdy plastic forks and spoons that I run through the dishwasher. I may have some extra plates and napkins, but would have to check. [Say as clearly as possible what you are offering.]

If you are interested, please let me know how many people you expect and what other food will be served. I could bring lunch for 8 people or just part of a meal for more (say, beans or cookies). I could come 20 minutes early to set up. [Ask for the information or support you will need.]

I absolutely understand if someone is already handling the lunch and you'd rather not have other food. If that's the case, I can bring my own personal lunch if needed. Like a lot of people, I'm trying to divest my plate. [Be flexible, but show this is important to you and others, with a reason that the organization can relate to.]

Thank you for the moving vigil yesterday. I'm glad you brought us together. [Thank them.]

Working Out the Details

The organization forwarded my email to the event organizer. After a few emails and texts back and forth, we agreed that I would make beans, rice, and vegetables for 16 people and he would make fruit salad and provide plates and cutlery. We exchanged cell numbers so we could be in touch the day of the event as needed.

Preparing the Food and Serving it Safely

Right now, I'm soaking 2 pounds of beans to cook later today. I'll use my Cuban Black Beans recipe. [Update: I couldn't get fresh tomatoes at the market, so I added 32 ounces of diced fire-roasted tomatoes after draining the beans.]

Cuban black beans cooking in a big pot

Tomorrow, I'll cook 5 cups of brown rice, roast summer squash, and chop bell peppers, tomatoes, and roasted squash for toppings. [Update: no tomatoes were available.]

summer squash on a cookie sheet ready for roasting

I'll also reheat the beans on the stove before putting them in a pre-heated slow cooker. Hot rice will go into another pre-heated slow cooker. A cooler with ice will keep the chopped veggies cool. As the FDA says about pre-cooked food and rice:

If food is to be stored longer than two hours, keep hot foods hot (over 140°F) and cold foods cold (40°F or under).

I'll also pack hot sauce, salt, and serving spoons. The slow cookers will go into towel-lined plastic tub in the car to avoid spills.

When I arrive, I'll plug in the slow cookers and set them to low. I'll add a cup of water to the rice and stir it to coat all the grains. That way, the rice will steam, not stick. Just before lunch is served, I'll stir the beans and rice and set out the veggies.

[Update: I couldn't find out if anyone else was bringing food. Turns out they were, which was a good thing because we had about 30 people. The other cooks were glad I'd brought serving a ladel and spoons! The beans and rice were very popular. The rice steamed perfectly in the slow cooker. I was even asked to give a short talk about how to divest your plate. I'm glad I got a chance to do this.]

Save Over $100 with $22 of Ingredients and Some Time

Making 16 servings of beans and rice with vegetable toppings and hot sauce will cost about $22 using organic ingredients, including local vegetables. That's just $1.35 per person.

In my area, boxed lunches cost about $8 without dessert and without organic ingredients. Ordering boxed lunches for 16 people would cost $128. By bringing lunch, you:

  • Save the organization $106
  • Probably provide healthier food
  • Provide a conversation started about how healthy food can make a difference

That's a recipe for win-win-win! I'll add pictures and notes on how this turned out soon.

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