A Food Review from a Remote Area Medical Clinic: Grundy, Va.

By Chris Cannon, Media Relations Coordinator

When I was told of the food review idea for our blog, I was a little skeptical. It came with one caveat – you have to try something you wouldn’t normally eat. For me, that’s asking a lot. I’m what you’d call the quintessential definition of a meat and taters kind of guy. I know my comfort zone, so, why step out of that?

The entire four-hour drive was filled with questions of, ‘How am I going to make this work?’ and ‘Why was I picked for the first one?’ However, once I arrived in Grundy, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did somebody own a cast-iron skillet, but they knew how to use it, too. The weekend was filled with some of the best food to keep you going. After all, that’s the most important part of Volunteer Vittles, right? Bobby Boucher said it best. It’s the ‘tacklin’ fuel’ for the weekend.

Friday night started off with a true clinic staple – pizza. This was from a local pizzeria, but honestly, pizza can get a little old. In Grundy, though, they had more variations than you could shake a stick at, and they had plenty of it. By the end of the night, Frannie and Sandy, the CHG Co-Chairs, were trying to send whole boxes of pizza home with volunteers as they left. The choices were plenty, and you couldn’t help but enjoy the local flavor. The dessert table was full of cakes, pies, brownies and fudge. I’m not a fudge person, but I saw some orange fudge. Being a Tennessee guy and needing to try out new things, I figured, ‘Why not?’ Turns out, it was Orange Creamsicle Fudge. One bite, and wow. It melted in your mouth. It brought back memories of eating a push-pop in middle school. By Saturday morning, the batch was gone – obviously a crowd favorite.

Desserts are their own type of vittles.By Saturday, however, the dessert table had doubled in size. Franny said they had plenty of food for the weekend, but desserts were low on Friday. No worries. She put out some phone calls, and soon, two lunchroom-sized tables were covered – many of the desserts homemade. By Saturday afternoon, many volunteers were left wondering if they needed to make a trip down to the dental operatories just to make sure their sweet tooth hadn’t caused any issues.

Breakfast each morning was an assortment of eggs, bacon, sausage, gravy, biscuits, fried apples and bagels with jams and jellies of all sorts. Like I said – my kind of people. The gentlemen working the serving line were amazing. They were often heavy-handed at times, but they had more than enough to go around. Brad Sands, a RAM staff member pictured above, said it was a good start to a busy day. “So far, it’s very good. It’s probably one of the better breakfasts I’ve had at a clinic, but they also won me over with the gravy.” I had to agree. Both mornings, breakfast hit the spot. The only thing missing was somewhere to hide and take a nap.

Saturday evening left me a little weary. Breakfast had started off great, and then lunch was simple cold cuts. Don’t get me wrong. They had a bologna sandwich, further proving they were my kind of people, but after breakfast, I had my sights set a little higher. Never fear, though. They made up for it, and then some, at dinner time. Walking into the cafeteria and catching a whiff of the smell was enough to make your shoe tongues lick your ankles, but getting up to the line, I’m surprised they didn’t have to put out wet floor signs from the drool of the volunteers. Pulled pork, ribs, smoked chicken, baked beans with beef, and ribs were lining the table. It was the perfect blends of spicy and sweet. Travis made it, according to the servers. Well, I’m not sure who Travis is, but I for one would like to shake his hand. Five stars for that one!

They sent us home in style on Sunday, too. Lunch was turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and green beans. The ham had a pineapple and honey flavor that was really great. The green beans weren’t my momma’s, but they were definitely an amazing addition. The mashed potatoes reminded me of high school potatoes, and the turkey was good. It was moist and flavorful, but the ham really stole the show for me. Again, where’s that nap room at?

All-in-all, Grundy was one of the best clinics for food lovers. I’d give it a 9.6 out of 10 for the weekend. The only problem I really saw was that the bananas were green, but who can really complain about that with the spread they laid out?