Comfort food soothes the soul

Using bacon purchased from Heritage Farms in Goldsboro and smoked on site, Arbor Acres Executive Chef Daryl Schembeck prepares Stuffed Shrimp & Crab

Comfort food soothes the soul
January 28
10:00 2021

By Martha Murphy

Nationally recognized author Alan Wolfelt once said: “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.”

Food is shared according to complex social values and structures. With or without words, food is a vehicle for expressing friendship, concern, happiness, and love—as when one gives or receives a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. 

In the absence of social connections during the global pandemic, and given how the pandemic has disrupted food production systems, people are finding unique ways to connect to food sources, especially local ones. A new generation of home cooks is emerging as evidenced by empty spice racks and baker’s yeast boxes on grocery store shelves. 

One of the anticipated outcomes of the pandemic will likely be a renewed commitment to supporting local farmers and food producers, a movement that has already arrived in Winston-Salem.

Recently, the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, at the suggestion of a local bartender, started promoting support of locally owned businesses, including restaurants, through the “Take Out Pledge WS” campaign. The partnership is encouraging residents to patronize a local business twice a week.

As it turns out, Arbor Acres in Winston-Salem was ahead of this buy-local curve when, during the height of the pandemic last year, the retirement community’s Dining Arts Department made a commitment to support local food vendors and farmers.

Arbor Acres, as part of its employee benefits program, provides employees with a free lunch every day. Starting last April, Arbor Acres ordered in special appreciation meals each week from local restaurants as a thank you to employees. From Duck Donuts to The Porch to Taqueria Luciano’s Food Truck, employees were treated to delicious food options from more than 15 area establishments as a way to support local businesses and show that Arbor Acres cared about them.

Response was so positive that the Dining Arts staff started searching for ways to extend support of local food vendors who could also contribute to the menu offerings available to residents.

One of the first relationships developed was with Faith McKnight, owner of Sweet Truth Bakery & Catering in the Thurmond Boston neighborhood of Winston-Salem, right around the corner from Arbor Acres. Faith continues to bake and deliver each week her specialty “scratch” seasonal cakes and pies to the delight of residents.

Based on enthusiastic responses to Faith’s home-cooked baked goods, Arbor Acres started searching for new opportunities to partner with local businesses and develop long-term relationships in support of “Stay Local, Eat Local.”

After a great deal of research, phone calls and socially distanced site visits, Arbor Acres has formalized relationships with additional small businesses. Camino Bakery in Winston-Salem provides baked goods, such as cookies and quiche. San Giuseppe’s Salami Co. in Elon supplies cured meats and ham. A variety of cheeses are now coming from Fading D Farms in Salisbury, Goat Lady Cheese in Climax, Ashe County Cheese in West Jefferson, and Red Clay Gourmet Cheese in Winston-Salem. Pork from Heritage Farms in Goldsboro, chicken from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem, and fresh vegetables from Patterson Farms in Mount Ulla and My Local Greens in Burlington help round out each meal.

In times of uncertainty, we take comfort in knowing that no matter from where it comes, food has the power to soothe the soul.

Martha Murphy is the marketing arts specialist for Arbor Acres Retirement Community,

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