Joy Greenwalt, a 36-year resident of Zionsville, and cohorts Joy Flinn and Suzi Herring have been joyfully baking, brewing, sautéing and stewing together for more than 11 years. Joining them in more recent years are Barb Rockwood, Pat Fields and Walt Wykes.
Calling themselves the Stovetop Shufflers, they meet twice a month at Zionsville Methodist Church. They create meals – usually an entrée, a soup and a dessert – to wrap, label and stash in the church freezer. The meals are free to those in need,and the cooks deliver when pickup is impossible.
Flinn is the undisputed “general in charge” of the outfit. It was she who first conceived the idea.
“I like to cook large quantities and freeze,”Flinn said. “I do that at home. My husband said that would be a good idea for a small group.”
Fast forward more than a decade. The small group works together like family on Thanksgiving. Amid ovens baking, pots boiling, knives chopping and the clatter of dishes, they somehow move like dancers, getting the work done without running into one another.
“The right hand knowswhat the left needs to do,” said Flinn, who works as an oncology nurse.
Karen Carichoff, a Shuffler client for 10 years, receives meals twice a month. A victim of rheumatoid arthritis, her illness and multiple surgeries since 1998 have left her without much energy for cooking. As for the Shufflers, Karen said simply, “I think theirs is one of the best ministries we have. Food is such a gift.”
Lois Martin, a recipient after surgery last fall, agrees.
“It is just wonderful. It’s like gourmet food. And Suzi(Herring) even brought the stuff here one time.”
In addition to food for the body, the Shufflers believe in food for the spirit. They hold devotions with most cooking sessions to help support each other and their clients emotionally and spiritually.
As Carichoff puts it, “They not only feed us, they pray for us, too.”
Now that’s what you call soul food.