Joy Bus is a nonprofit that provides free meals to homebound cancer patients. Owner Jennifer Caraway opened the diner after winning the Food Network TV show “Chopped.” Caraway has a new cookbook out, with recipes from celebrated local chefs.
Local chefs use locally sourced ingredients to prepare nutritious meals designed especially for people undergoing cancer treatment. Volunteers also help to package and deliver the food, and children decorate the paper bags. “It’s a real organic community effort,” Caraway said.
Caraway also owns the Joy Bus Diner at 32nd St. and Shea Blvd. – which has been closed during the pandemic, but is normally open to the public. Caraway said 100% of the diner’s proceeds go to funding their programs. She hopes the diner will be able to reopen.
The new cookbook, “More Than a Meal: The Joy Bus Community of Chefs,” includes recipes from the chefs who share their time and talents with the Joy Bus community.
The title emphasizes the multifaceted nature of Joy Bus’ work. “We’re not only providing nutritious food, we’re also providing education, healthy meals, a well-check, a shoulder to cry on. There’s so much involved with that well-check visit beyond the food,” Caraway said.
The pandemic has packed a punch for Joy Bus. Caraway said that Peter Fine of Banner Health and Derrick Hall of the Diamondbacks stepped up to pay their rent for the entire year. “It’s just another example of how we don’t exist without the community around us,” Caraway said.
The need for Joy Bus’ services has grown through the pandemic, Caraway said. “Last year, we were making roughly 50 home visits each week, and now we’re upwards of 80.”