Soul Food cooks up an appetite for community

By: Janice Kim

Soul Food for boys and girls is a weekly gathering where students and teachers can go to dinner and coffee with one another, talk about life, and see where conversation leads them.

“It sounded like a lot fun and Mr. Lozano did everything to make it [Soul Food] work in our favor,” said Matthew Chang, a senior, explaining why Soul Food attracted him.

Each time a new member joins, Mr. Lozano lets the ‘newbie’ decide what to eat for dinner “so that the new person can feel comfortable and not pressured,” explained Mr. Lozano.

“I know the whole free food thing attracts a lot of people, but when it comes down to sitting with individuals who are willing to take time outside of school to be with each other, that’s something you cannot put a price on,” said Senior Jaho Koo.

Soul Food gave students time to reflect on their weekly life and talk about some of the issues they were facing. “We’ve talked about video game addictions, movies, dating, and personal life,” said Mr. Lozano, sharing a list of topics the boys wanted to talk about.

There is a misunderstanding in regards to what Soul Food is about. “I thought it was about religion and the Bible, which it can be sometimes, but it’s more of an application of it [the Bible] on my daily life,” said senior grader, Justin Park.

“When I do chapel, I prepare a lesson and I get to dictate where things go, but this, I have no control of it because it’s a discussion based on students’ opinions,” remarked Mr. Lozano.

Jaho started Soul Food boys a bit differently from other students: “I wanted some momentary comfort; someone to pray for me. Mr. Lozano took a step further and asked me if I wanted to meet with him after school and talk more about my concerns. To be honest, I was a little unsure at the time, but I really appreciated him willing to spend extra time after school.”

Jaho continued his meetings with Mr. Lozano through Soul Food Boys to reconnect his faith. “We do get down to deep religious things but also just about my personal problems over the week,” he added.

Teachers and students both understand the uniqueness and value of Soul Food Boys and Girls. Mrs. Pitkin, leader of Soul Food Girls said, “There is so much value in getting to sit down with peers, friends, and adults to hash out the struggles of life” and Soul Food gives space for this.

Aaron Kim, another senior who is meeting with the Soul Food Boys, explained that Soul Food is “a community that can guide and support me.”

Justin Park likes how he “gets to learn a lot of life lessons which school might not teach.”

Rachel Kim, a sophomore and Soul Food Girls member, further explained why she keeps going to Soul Food Girls, “obviously, there is a huge wall between teachers and students and that blocks out teachers from being able to help students spiritually but through this, that wall can be broken down and we can experience God together.”

Mr. Lozano elaborated that, “there’s a big front door and a big back door; everybody is welcome to come and welcome to go” and encouraged students to try out Soul Food Boys and Soul Food Girls.

As Soul Food Boys and Girls continue their gatherings, teachers are hoping students will also grow more spiritually. Mrs. Pitkin said, “anyone who comes would leave feeling like they have invested some really good time on us and God.”

She also added that, “I want to see students really striving in their relationships with God and my prayer is for these students to grow in their spiritual walks with God.”

For more information on Soul Food Boys contact Mr. Lozano. For more information on Soul Food Girls contact Mrs. Pitkin.