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More than beans: hummus program opens opportunities at L’Arche Boston North

Six members of the Homemade Hummus program at L'Arche Boston North stand around a white board in a kitchen wearing aprons, gloves, face masks, and hats.
There are many ways L’Arche Boston North community member Megan McCarthy might spend her days but, for now, she spends a lot of time in a kitchen making hummus. 

“I enjoy making hummus,” she said. “It allows me to spend time with friends, learn new things and build my confidence.” 

The flavorful Mediterranean treat does more than satisfy the cravings of Megan and her friends. The L’Arche Boston North community has taken its love for making hummus all the way to the market.  

L’Arche Boston North’s Homemade Hummus program started a few years ago as a group opportunity that also provided exposure to some vocational skills, but the zeal for hummus couldn’t stay in the kitchen.  Soon after its start, hummus made with love by L’Arche Boston North community members was stocked and sold at the farmers markets in Haverhill, Mass.  

Of course, the effort is about far more than chickpeas and olive oil.  

“What makes us different is that we put relationships first,” Assistant Culinary Program Leader Sophie Leblanc-Mederios said. “Each person has time to see and be seen, contribute, learn and make mistakes in the safety of compassionate support. It may sound corny, but it works because we care so much about one another.” 

It’s care that ends up in packages of hummus that are gaining popularity. Culinary program leader Scott Sanderson says the rewards are greater than the food that’s created.  

“The program has been built on the foundation of making hummus, but as we build on this foundation it allows people of all abilities to have a sense of purpose and inclusiveness to learning culinary skills,” he said.  

As the kitchen is often the heart of a L’Arche home, it’s natural that cooking would be an offering that spills into the wider community. While their fellow L’Arche residents gain the most immediate benefits from the students’ fledgling skill, the L’Arche Boston North kitchen crew plans to support Off the Streets, a local soup kitchen and homeless outreach ministry. 

“We are inviting the community to share in our mission, while also changing the narrative of how the world views people with disabilities,”  L’Arche Boston North community leader Jen Matthews said. “We’re breaking down the barriers and stereotypes of people with disabilities as being recipients of charity. In turn, we demonstrate the dynamic gifts and skills people with disabilities have to enrich their communities.” 

It’s already a key ingredient in enriching Megan’s life.  

“I hope to continue to work in program to enjoy more people who can also grow through the program and take what I learned home to my house and family,” she said.  

Learn more about the hummus program on L’Arche Boston North’s website.

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