Ruben Burnett has been cooking meals for Austin’s homebound seniors for almost 20 years.
The head chef for Meals on Wheels has continued that work during the coronavirus pandemic, and he’s now hosting virtual cooking classes to showcase some of the dietitian-curated meals that go out to the more than 3,000 Meals on Wheels clients.
The next "What’s Cookin’ with Chef Ruben" will take place at noon on Sept. 1 and will feature roast beef with gravy, ranch-roasted potatoes, Catalina vegetables and cherry pie. Each class lasts about 30 minutes, and you can find the link under the "Get Involved" section of mealsonwheelscentraltexas.org.
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Meals on Wheels has been serving vulnerable Austinites since 1972, and the organization has evolved dramatically since its inception. In addition to the regular meals, the kitchen staff also prepares variations for clients who are on low-potassium diets, who require softer or even pureed foods and those who, because of gastrointestinal issues, need food a little on the bland side.
Before the pandemic, Burnett and his staff cooked hot meals five days a week, arriving at the kitchen at 2 a.m. two days a week so they could prepare enough food to cover weekends, too.
Since March, however, the team has been preparing meals that can be frozen so volunteers can delivery a two-week supply of meals every other Friday. The organization isn’t currently taking on new volunteers because they need to go through training to safely deliver the meals, and those trainings have been postponed due to COVID-19.