Friends make home-cooked meals for Des Moines nursing home workers

The sun’s out on the back porch of Dan Tripp’s beige bungalow on 36th Street, near Ingersoll, and he and his longtime fellow musician friend Chris Lachky are cooking up fried chicken on a propane stove.

An eclectic mix of country and funk wafts through the house as Tripp slowly dips the buttermilk-soaked chicken into an eggwash whipped with vodka and his own secret blend of flour and different spices. (Note to self: Vodka makes the chicken moist and crispy.}

Inside, Tripp’s 10-year-old son Thurston pours syrup into little plastic cups. Thurston’s one-time teacher at Hanawalt Elementary, Tim Tutt, shakes up a plastic container of homemade honey butter made with fresh cream.

Jessi Allard, left, and Anna Kaufman dish up some watermelon in the kitchen of Dan Tripp's Des Moines home as the team behind A Saucerful of Giving prepare a chicken and waffle breakfast for a West Des Moines skilled nursing facility on Saturday, March 19, 2022 .

Friends Anna Kauffman, the daughter of the owner of Francie’s on the south side, and Jessi Allard, who lives downtown, mix together watermelon with a little lime, paprika and other spice. The waffles already in the oven are sweet, soft and crispy – per the instructions of Thurston’s discerning fourth-grade palate.

From about 7 am to 11 am every Saturday morning, a crew of friends assembles mouth-watering, home-cooked meals to deliver to more than 30 employees of a West Des Moines skilled nursing facility, where COVID-19 has loomed large, shifts are long and a worker shortage continues.

Calling themselves A Saucerful of Giving, they are all food-lovers who want to bring a smile to the workers’ faces as they carry out tough jobs that got a lot more difficult two years ago this month.

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Tim Tutt helps as the team behind A Saucerful of Giving prepare a chicken and waffle breakfast for a West Des Moines skilled nursing facility on Saturday, March 19, 2022.

“It’s very sweet,” said Lakisha Brown, a 34-year-old traveling nurse who has flown in from Louisiana to Iowa more than once to work at ProMedica, formerly ManorCare Health Services, during the pandemic. “It helps out a lot. We’ve been working our butts off. ”

The evolution of these Saturday mornings of service began years ago when, as a deacon at Central Presbyterian Church at 38th and Grand Ave., Tripp used to visit an elderly friend named Becky who was a shut-in.

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