Outreach program educates community about healthy eating

Graduate student Rocco Russo teaches attendees at Kent Social Services about the benefits of antioxidants on Friday, April 12 as part of Kent State’s Nutrition Outreach Program. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Ashley Gerenday

The Campus Kitchen Project: Nutrition Outreach program at Kent State University provides nutritional education and meals for those residents of Portage County in a lower socioeconomic status.

“They recover and repurpose food that might otherwise be thrown away,” senior special assistant Anna Gosky said. “They repurpose that food and make it into very wholesome and nutritious meals that serves on an average 180 meals on Thursdays to Kent Social Services and the Center of Hope.”

The Campus Kitchen Project: Nutrition Outreach program offers multiple forms of education.

Erin Powell, student director of nutrition outreach, said twice a month on Thursday, a group of students and volunteers travel to Kent Social Services and the Center of Hope in Ravenna to provide cooking lessons and demonstrations to those who utilize the services there.

“I try to pick topics that they ask questions about,” Powell said. “I like to educate them on topics that they want to learn about. The food typically ties into the lesson.”

For example, one of the lessons was based on healthy fats. Students and volunteers walked attendees through the preparation process of three dips: peanut butter hummus, guacamole and tuna dip, Powell said.

While the programs offered at Kent Social Services and the Center of Hope are aimed toward adults, the Campus Kitchen Project: Nutrition Outreach program travels to the King Kennedy Center to provide nutrition education and cooking lessons to children.

Powell said that she tries to use ingredients that the visitors to the program can find in their local food pantry. This way, they can make the recipes on their own from the food they collect from the pantry.

In addition to the education programs the Campus Kitchen Project: Nutrition Outreach program organizes, they have a table at the Haymaker Farmer’s Market every Saturday.

“When people come to the table, we talk about Campus Kitchen and promote what we do and educate the community about it,” Powell said.

At the Farmer’s Market, visitors can sample nutritious snacks and foods made from local farmer’s produce.

“They always highlight something that’s locally produced and in season,” Gosky said. “So if kale is in season, and you don’t know what to do with kale, they will use that in a recipe to show you nutritious ways to prepare kale or whatever it happens to be.”

Tanya Falcone, program coordinator, said it is important to educate people.

“Most people aren’t educated,” Falcone said. “People get confused as to what’s supposed to be healthy and what’s not.”

Contact Ashley Gerenday at [email protected].