I love food. I love eating food, cooking food, thinking and talking about food. I go to grocery stores for fun and wander the aisles; sometimes I need to buy something, but often I just go to look at all of the different kinds of food available. So, when I began to look for a summer job, I figured that I should start my search by looking for jobs involving food. The internship at the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University (CKNU) looked like a great option; I could work with food and help people too! It doesn’t get much better than that.
Now as the summer draws to a close, I am happy to say that it far exceeded my expectations. And it wasn’t even so much about the food, or at least not directly. It was very much about the role food plays in our lives and in the lives of those for whom food is not readily available. My fascination with food before this summer was more about all of the flavors, colors, and textures, and how these could be combined endlessly to create delicious meals. Now, though, I have found that it is just as, or probably more, interesting to look at the social role of food. Eating is, of course, necessary to human survival, but it is also very much a social activity. Whether it’s a family dinner or friends meeting at a bar, food infiltrates most of our social activities.
I can’t help but see examples of this in the experiences I had delivering meals this summer. When delivering to some of our chattier clients it is easy to lose track of time as the conversation progresses from small talk about the weather to current events to things going on in that person’s life. Food brings people together. It is the food that brings me to each individual’s door and it is the food that brings them to answer the door. Two people who probably would have never come into contact with one another now see each other two or three times a week, brought together by the food that one needs and the other prepares. It’s not a family dinner, but it is a powerful social connection fostered through the exchange of food.
Whether the conversation with the client lasts a few seconds or several minutes, a connection is made and it is these connections that made my experience this summer more about the people receiving the food than the food itself. This internship was not the wonderful experience that it was because of the food I prepared – although making 600 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in one afternoon is quite a feat – but because of the people for whom the food was made.
As I begin my senior year at Northwestern it will be these thoughts that will guide me, hopefully, in my decision of what to do after I graduate. I was never really banking on turning my love of food into my career, but I think that working for an organization like CKNU is something that I could see myself doing in the future.
Erin Berger is a summer intern at The Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University. She is a rising senior at Northwestern University and she enjoys reading and spending time outside.
At the end of my freshman year at Northwestern, I knew there were many ways I could spend my upcoming summer vacation. I could relax and unwind, get a job, or even volunteer. But then, I received an email that Campus Kitchens at Northwestern University (CKNU) was looking for interns. My friend and I had volunteered at CKNU for two weeks during of our senior year of high school when all the students in my grade completed different service projects. Now, through the internship, it was my chance to devote more time to the organization and become a part of CKNU again.
Overall, it was a great summer, and I am really glad that I was selected to be an intern at CKNU. I was able to be a part of all the operations of the organization- rescuing food, preparing meals, delivering the food, and cleaning the clamshells. Our team, consisting of four interns and our coordinator, Katie, worked to provide over 22,009 meals!
Also, because of the nature of the internship, I was able to plan and attend events such as Peanut Butter and Jelly making competitions and Nutrition Education seminars. As an intern, I completed tasks for the organization with the goal of operating more smoothly. I wrote pieces for blogs and newsletters and was able to work a lot with different aspects of the organization that needed help in order to maximize efforts.
This year, I am even staying on as a Leadership Team member for the academic year. Transitioning from summer to fall will be seamless for CKNU. We have new systems in place after a successful and busy summer that will help CKNU tremendously.
During my break between my internship and the start of classes, I know my mind will wander to the details of the organization such as do we have enough food? Or what about that client with the specific dietary restriction? Anyone who works at CKNU becomes attached to the organization because of your fellow volunteers but also the clients and other people you meet along the way. But, CKNU is ready for a new chapter with the Leadership Team, new volunteers, and a chance to further expand the organization on campus. Although I will be in charge of a meal shift next quarter, I hope to get out on a delivery once and a while to visit some clients that I got to know well over the busy, but great, summer!
Leigh Kukanza is a summer intern at Campus Kitchens at Northwestern University. She is a rising sophomore at Northwestern and she enjoys watching sports and reading.
CKMU is being featured in today’s Marquette Tribune!! Check it out!! Thank you Elise for writing such a nice article and Daniel for taking pictures of folks in the kitchen.