'Food can heal': Volunteers provide Thanksgiving meal for jail detainees recovering from addictions

  • Caterer Quenby Schuyler prepares meals that will be served in the substance-abuse recovery pod at the Kane County jail today for Thanksgiving. Schuyler and many of her volunteers are also in recovery.

    Caterer Quenby Schuyler prepares meals that will be served in the substance-abuse recovery pod at the Kane County jail today for Thanksgiving. Schuyler and many of her volunteers are also in recovery. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Volunteers peel potatoes at Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva for Thanksgiving meals that will be served to Kane County jail inmates in the recovery pod.

    Volunteers peel potatoes at Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva for Thanksgiving meals that will be served to Kane County jail inmates in the recovery pod. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Nick Spoerl of Wasco dices peppers for salads that will be part of the Thanksgiving meals served to inmates in the recovery pod at the Kane County jail.

    Nick Spoerl of Wasco dices peppers for salads that will be part of the Thanksgiving meals served to inmates in the recovery pod at the Kane County jail. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Jessica Hall and Jacob Staudacher, both of Geneva, make green bean casserole at Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva. Caterer Quenby Schuyler is providing Thanksgiving meals that will be served to detainees in the recovery pod at the Kane County jail.

    Jessica Hall and Jacob Staudacher, both of Geneva, make green bean casserole at Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva. Caterer Quenby Schuyler is providing Thanksgiving meals that will be served to detainees in the recovery pod at the Kane County jail. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Last year, detainees in the Kane County jail's substance-abuse recovery pod received a Thanksgiving meal donated by St. Charles caterer Quenby Schuyler.

    Last year, detainees in the Kane County jail's substance-abuse recovery pod received a Thanksgiving meal donated by St. Charles caterer Quenby Schuyler. courtesy of Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain, November 2021

 
 
Posted11/24/2022 5:30 AM

Quenby Schuyler hit an all-time low in late March 2020.

Her father was in the hospital with COVID-19, and she could not visit him because of pandemic restrictions. He died alone. There was no funeral possible -- just a curbside pickup of his ashes from a funeral home.

 

A sympathizing worker at her business told her, "Boy, it's too bad the bars aren't open because you could use a drink."

Something clicked in Schuyler. Alcohol -- readily available in her job as a private chef and caterer -- had become a problem for her.

She turned to Lighthouse Recovery of St. Charles to help her start a life of sobriety.

And that is how she found herself cooking a Thanksgiving meal this week for about 100 detainees and staff members in the substance-abuse recovery pod of the Kane County jail. It's the third consecutive year she's done it.

Schuyler, who lives in St. Charles, said preparing the annual meal shows the detainees, "We understand your struggles."

"Part of my recovery is doing this," Schuyler said Tuesday, as volunteers (some also in recovery) made gravy and peeled potatoes for the meal.

'A different person'

Schuyler is the owner of Qs Catering.

Drinking wine while working, or enjoying a bottle given to her by clients, was common. (A 2015 study by the federal government found the accommodations and food-service industry had the third-highest rates of heavy alcohol use among industries.)

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While she sometimes donated her services, it was mostly to promote her business.

"I was definitely a different person," Schuyler said.

That changed when she entered recovery.

Lighthouse runs the substance-abuse recovery program at the Kane County jail. As Thanksgiving 2020 approached, the director of the jail program asked Schuyler to make a special holiday meal for the participants.

Later, a former detainee recognized Schuyler during a Zoom sobriety group meeting. "I remember what you made!" he said.

What's on the menu

People donated about $2,000 this year to cover the cost of the meal. The Patten House restaurant in Geneva donated the turkeys.

The food was prepared on Tuesday and Wednesday in a commercial kitchen at Faith Lutheran Church in Geneva. Lighthouse staff will pick it up Thursday morning and rewarm it at the jail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The detainees and the pod staff will have turkey, sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce, a fresh green bean casserole, smashed potatoes, a greens salad, and corn-and-cheddar pudding.

"This has become a passion of mine," Schuyler said.

"Food is medicine," she said. "Food can heal and bring people together."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.