Meet the words of a real EC. A sandwich slayer. Even Stevens Draper’s very own, Rachel D.

Rachel is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism and Communications. When you ask her what’s she’s all about, she’ll tell you she’s a Shark Week aficionado, eats Nutella by the spoonful, and is the type of baker who runs out of flour midway through a recipe. What she loves most about Even Stevens is our incorporation of local Utah products and community support. Ah shucks, Rachel. We love you too.

Here’s her account of an experience in the kitchen at First Step House (one of our non-profit partners in Salt Lake City):

Biscuits and gravy, Spanish rice, sweet-and-sour pork, and barbecue chicken are just a handful of meals served last week at First Step House’s recovery campus in downtown Salt Lake City. Gabriel Jackson, chef and food service manager at First Step House, has been slowly oven roasting pork since 6 a.m. that morning for the lunch special of the day: sweet pulled pork sandwiches with homemade coleslaw.

Gabriel Jackson

Jackson manages the menus for First Step House’s two food service locations. Not only is he cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week; but is creatively planning how to successfully turn food donations (including Even Stevens’ bread, meat, cheese and produce) into diverse meals. Now multiply that to serve 180 men, using two different kitchens. Yep, that equals a lot of work. “It keeps me on my toes,” Jackson says of the challenge, “but at the same time is very rewarding because it gives me an opportunity to give back.”

First Step House’s mission: “help people build lives of meaning, purpose, and recovery”. They serve a variety of different needs and types of people but their focus is adult males with substance abuse disorders, including unemployment and homelessness. However, their reach does not stop there. First Step House has both residential and outpatient treatment facilities and just this year opened a recovery campus that is specifically designed to serve as a treatment and housing center for veterans.

Since Even Stevens partnered with First Step House last July, Jackson notices a huge difference in his budget. “The products that we are currently getting from Even Stevens were something that we were already purchasing,” Jackson says, “That money can now be used in other aspects in the department or other clinical needs throughout the organization. It has definitely made an impact. The more we can get, the more we can help.”

But how does the process actually work? First, every sandwich sold at Even Stevens Draper is tallied up and calculated. Then, the proportional amount of raw food is dispersed to each of the four charities once a month. Jackson and his team then plan how to incorporate the Even Steven donations like ham or turkey, into tasty home cooked meals for the clients of First Step House. Sometimes it’s ham steaks, turkey chowder, or ham fried rice.

Jackson’s philosophy is a well-balanced, nutritious diet and a creative diverse menu. Rarely will the clients see the same meal within two months. Jackson says, “this keeps the guys interested.” In addition to the two kitchens he manages, First Step House donates 30-pound boxes of raw food to its 15 to 20 transitional clients and alumni each week.

Jackson’s advice to Even Stevens customers, “Don’t just buy a sandwich, buy one to take home. If you want to help out, there is no effort that is too small.

January 28, 2016