GOSO strives to create a community-minded atmosphere that will help our guys thrive emotionally, which allows them to thrive in the areas of education and employment (the Three E’s!). Workshops, programs, conversations, laughter, games and art — all of these are considered central to that mission.
Providing resources that are too-often difficult to access for our guys is a key part of maintaining that atmosphere, and this week we’re spotlighting one such vital resource: Food!
As Julia Friedman, Senior Director of Community Programs, explained: “We’re asking GOSO Guys to be the best versions of themselves in our curriculum, school, paid internship program and vocational training. How can you ask someone to be their best self if they don’t have the nutrients they need to do that?”
At GOSO, our refrigerator and pantry are full — we have a constant supply of fruits, snacks, lunch meat, bread and cheese, and more — and we provide access to a kitchen complete with an oven, crock-pot, toaster and microwave. Our guys have total freedom to help themselves and to bring leftovers to their families, and it’s a common sight to see staff members or interns cooking up a communal batch of chili or pasta. More than just a place for sustenance, the kitchen becomes the central hangout spot for our participants. At all times of day you can find our guys there making sandwiches, cracking jokes and catching up.
Many of GOSO’s participants are food insecure and don’t have the reliable access to affordable, nutritious food so many of us take for granted. Just knowing they have that access eliminates a huge source of stress and allows them to focus on performing well at work and school, and creates bandwidth for other activities central to their development.
One participant, Isaiah, shared: “I don’t really have food at my house, and the fact that I can come to GOSO and get food for free means that money can go somewhere else — like towards my books or something for school. And I work down the block, so on my lunch break I can come here and get food for lunch and then go back.”
Another participant, Mercedes, said, “Most of the time I eat at GOSO for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food isn’t at the house, so I feel a sense of comfort that I don’t have to worry about going a day without food, I don’t have to worry about nourishing myself.”
Food is a vital pillar of physical and emotional well-being (one of GOSO’s Three E’s). Nutrients play a critical role in brain function, and food deficiency has a detrimental impact on mental health. Because of this, ensuring our guys have the fundamental resources needed to live well and function is a pre-requisite for the rest of our work. As Julia explained, “We can’t expect the guys to be emotionally regulated if they’re hungry. Just being well fed and knowing where you’re going to get food reduces anxiety first and foremost.”
GOSO strives to continue to strengthen our nutritional services by creating partnerships with local businesses to provide guys with a healthy variety of food options. We’d like to thank all of those donors and partners because their aid is indispensable to the health and well-being of our participants and to the overall success of GOSO’s programming.
Julia again: “People have to understand that a little kindness goes a long way. Even small donations can feed a couple of people who don’t know what they are going to have for dinner.”