a guest post by Mariah James, The Campus Kitchens Project intern
Prior to coming to The Campus Kitchens Project as an intern, I was very youth-focused. I saw, and still see, kids in terms of their potential to achieve. I placed a large amount of my time and energy into working with kids to support them in reaching their maximum potential. But as I began my internship, I gained greater insight into a group of individuals very different from kids but still deserving of the same attention: senior citizens.
The Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School prepares and delivers 120 nutritious meals to seniors each week in addition to hosting a variety of events for their clients. As I delivered meals with the Gonzaga students every Tuesday and Friday and helped them coordinate a tasting event for their clients, I learned more about the older adult population and the challenges they face. Seniors are often isolated due to limited mobility, making it hard for them to physically access groceries. In addition, most are on a fixed income, which isn’t always enough money to cover all their expenses, especially the purchasing of healthy foods. Finally, many live alone and must cope with these problems by themselves.
Perhaps more importantly, I also learned more about the assets seniors bring to their communities: knowledge that I gained and watched the Gonzaga students gain as well. The clients taught the students patience, respect and general kindness towards others. When delivering meals, the students would wait a few extra minutes for their clients to come to the door, because they were aware that they might be slower to answer. The students would then chat with the seniors, who would inadvertently pass on some of their acquired knowledge and wisdom. For exampple: you need to give into your vices on occasion to make life a little sweeter (this statement was by a diabetic man whose vice is hot fudge sundaes).
As I got to know these older adults and witnessed these interactions, I came to realize their value in society and how I overlooked it. I arrived at The Campus Kitchens Project with hopes of returning to my school, Christopher Newport University, full of ideas to help start a Campus Kitchen. I now leave with a new respect for the elderly and a desire to make them focus of Christopher Newport’s future Campus Kitchen.
Mariah served as our intern for the last two months. She has been a great asset to The Campus Kitchens Project, spending lots of time helping us get ready for Boot Camp and the upcoming school year. She also spent many afternoons cooking and delivering meals with the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School. Mariah, thanks for being a joy to work with, and best of luck back at school!