Campus Kitchen is Jumpin’ in June!

Hello all,

My name is Isis Rose. I am a rising sophomore Sociology major at Spelman College and a Shepherd Poverty Alliance Intern. Apparently, I am the new Mackenzie! Or in other words, Jenny Sproul’s new intern. I have been interning at the campus kitchen for about two weeks now. We have certainly gotten a lot accomplished in such a short amount of time!

Blog 1: Part 1

There's a first time for everything 
There’s a first time for everything

I had never made scones before working at Campus Kitchen. I had never made chicken enchilada casserole or made a delectable pasta out of ramen noodles. I have also never worked for an organization more intriguing, eye-opening, hands-on and fun.

On my first day of work I had the most intense introduction to what lies ahead for me this summer. First, I met my supervisor, Jennifer Sproul, who gave me a brief tour of the kitchen. We talked a little bit about the Kitchen itself and had small talk. Then, I was already off to work. After some minor food prep, Jenny and I were off to the garden to meet the youth volunteers from Lexington Presbyterian Church.

W&L has had a very large plot of land back in the woods for fifteen years. Originally this land was used for Biology experiments. Now, this land has become a garden that focuses on sustainable methods and a cyclical, mutualistic relationship between the local food marts in town, Campus Kitchen, and the environment.

Dr. Chris Wise explained that this was a very green way to help people as well as the environment. Food from the garden is passed on to local farmers’ markets and grocers who in turn donate to the campus kitchen. All food scraps are used as compost to enrich the soil at the garden. Thus, making a cyclical, economical, and responsible relationship in the community.

 One example of a green gardening method is the composting operation. Composting is when organic matter like carrot and orange peels or tree branches break down over time into to rich organic soil. This nutrient-rich, fertile soil is then added to dry and nutrient-poor soil. Plants grow beautifully without harmful chemicals or soil additives. Another example of environmentally friendly gardening is how wet newspaper was spread out around the base of the tomato plant. This is done to prevent weed growth because weeds cannot grow through the newspaper. Eventually, the newspaper will decompose and enrich the soil. This prevents gardeners from using weed killers which are chock-full of harmful substances.

After working in the garden we went to serve our clients at the Robert E. Lee Building which used to be a hotel but is now a place where people can pay for more affordable living. It was here where I met a resident named James, an ex-marine and a regular volunteer for the Garden program. I actually sat and had lunch with James. As volunteers, wherever we serve food we are welcome to have some. Eating lunch with clients is a good way to break the ice and attempt to make connections with people you probably would not have made under other circumstances.

The Campus Kitchen serves congregates or groups and individual clients. When the time came for individual deliveries, we took meals to clients at the battered women’s shelter called Project Horizon, the local Hospice and the clients affiliated with HeadStart. First we went to Project Horizon where  we didn’t go inside or interact. We just dropped off the food. The women who live their generally can provide for themselves. The donated food just lessens their financial burdens. Next, we put a few meals into the refrigerator at the Hospice. We didn’t see anyone when we walked in. And finally, we made two HeadStart home deliveries. HeadStart is an agency that serves lower-income hispanic families.

Throughout the rest of the week, we prepared hundreds of meals with fewer than 6 kitchen volunteers at a time. We made everything from sauteed vegetables to pita pizzas. All of the clients we served were appreciative and praised the food saying “the food is good this week!” I’d like to think I personally had something to do with that 🙂 Lol, not really. We had a lot of above average food thanks to W&L’s graduation the week before last.

Blog 1: Part 2

magnolia

The most interesting delivery site was the Magnolia Center for developmentally disabled adults. We delivered food there on Friday June 12. Here’s an excerpt from my journal entry:

While I was eating my lunch I could hear people around me praising the chicken enchilada casserole. I was really excited because it was my first time making that dish and I was worried it wouldn’t be all that great. Many asked for seconds. I met Jade*, Clay*, and Tanya*. Jade is an older woman who in the past Jenny thought was a staff member because she was so helpful. Clay is a man who doesn’t speak very well and loves to hug and flirt. As soon as we got there he was told “no hugs.” Tanya was really quiet but responded when I asked her how she was enjoying her food. I was communicating with Tanya as if she were a client but I thought what if she’s an employee?! (It was a little hard to distinguish staff from client because the staff wasn’t wearing uniforms.) So I asked her if she worked at the Center. During our conversation, she told me that she was a volunteer and she worked there every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I asked her about the plays that the clients put on and she told me they hadn’t done a play in a while but they have put on Christmas plays before.

Time was winding down so I and the other volunteers started to dish out any finally helpings of food and clean up. As the group of us was talking, Jenny came over and asked if we were able to meet any of the clients. I told her I had met Jade, Clay, and Tanya who was really nice and had been volunteering at the center. Jenny looked at me and said, “Tanya is a client.” I was very embarrassed to say the least.

On our way back to the Kitchen, Jenny informed us many of the clients have fictitious lives that they believe they are living, like the woman that has a younger male love-interest that drives around town in a black Cadillac. She also told us that the Magnolia Center is her favorite delivery site. The people are always so warm and welcoming and she can see the progress a lot of the clients have made over time. For example, Janice* has made leaps and bounds from when Jenny met her years ago. Before, she used stare at people in an almost hateful way. Now, she is very friendly and even told Jenny during their interaction that she wanted Jenny to get married so she could be happy. 

Overall, I would say that this was a great experience and a lot more palatable for me than the Manor at Natural Bridge.

 *Names have been changed

I have had a very eventful week! I wish I could share everything, but I’ve probably already made this entry too long.

 Thanks for reading. There’s more to come.

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