SPU opens new community kitchen Wednesday

Posted on April 11th, 2011 by master


Seattle Pacific University food and nutrition students are preparing to launch a brand new community kitchen, offering monthly programs to train students and help limited-income individuals learn about how to make healthy meals on a budget. Student volunteers gathered last Wednesday for a training session for the program, which will open its doors to the public this week.

Beginning this Wednesday, April 13, the community kitchen will educate participants on cooking, working from recipes and preparing nutritious and inexpensive food in a group workshop held one Wednesday per month. The cost to attend is $10, which includes between 10 and 12 servings of food per individual that participants can take home with them at the end of the class.

“We’re all very excited about it,” said Associate Professor of Nutrition Daniela Geleva, who initiated the program and has been involved in the larger community kitchen movement in Seattle for the last few years. “I’ve gotten a lot of support from colleagues and students.”

The idea for the community kitchen sprung from Geleva after the renovation of a space in the basement of Peterson Hall into a five-kitchen cooking lab last summer. Anxious to share the space with the community, Geleva said she applied for and received a $2,563 grant last November from the SERVE program that funds projects that help students explore their vocations.

“I wanted to allow our own students to utilize their skills they learn in the classroom in real life, by not just practicing but also sharing those skills with other people and serving other people,” said Geleva.

Community kitchens began in Peru to address poverty and food shortages in the 1960s, according to the Community Kitchens Northwest website. It spread to other countries, in particular Canada where thousands of these kitchens exist today. They began popping up in Seattle in 2007, and now SPU’s will mark the 12th in the area. Central Washington University in Ellensburg is planning on opening its own community kitchen program beginning in August, said Geleva.

“College campuses are the perfect place for this,” said Geleva.

Community kitchens can serve a range of interests, she says. Individuals can use the program to not only save money on food, but to learn how to make nutritious, inexpensive meals. The more important aspect, according to Geleva, is building a sense of community.

The extracurricular program is composed of 12 food and nutritional sciences undergraduate volunteers. Two students were chosen as coordinators, who are paid for the extra amount of work and planning they do.

“Our students are excited about the idea and want to use their time to serve the community,” said Geleva.

Geleva has been working with the local food bank, low-income housing buildings and community centers to get the word out, and she is also reaching out to SPU students with financial needs. A flyer on the program can be seen here.

She hopes that the program can be self-sustaining in the future, relying not on grant money but on partnerships with food producers, donations, food not sold at farmers markets, the SPU community garden and fundraising. Geleva also hopes that down the line the program will be able to either add additional nights a month or increase the capacity of 16 individuals per night.

To sign up or for questions about the program, you can contact Geleva at dgeleva@spu.edu.


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