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.

Hello, my name is Isis Rose a rising sophomore Sociology major from Spelman College. I am currently working as a summer intern at the  Campus Kitchen Project at Washington and Lee University through the Shepherd Poverty Alliance Program. One week down, seven more to go! And it has been an action-packed week. Let me tell you about it…

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. Eric 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 Guy#1, 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.

See part 2