Category Archives: Hospitality

Pantry Produce Plot: More than Honors Work

To complete an A with Honors project for her Hospitality degree, Parkland College sophomore Del Jacobs has been working with Parkland Horticulture faculty this summer to plant a garden for the Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland.  She shares the process and her progress below. As a student, Del’s exemplary efforts in sustainability and feeding the hungry are well documented; the garden project is a continuation of her drive to serve. Parkland is proud to train those with a heart to help.

 

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I approached Theresa mid-spring about getting help from the Horticulture students to plan and plant a garden to feed 30 families. The Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland feeds an average of 30 families at each distribution.

Theresa’s class ran the numbers and figured out what to plant and how much to plant. In May, before my trip to Morocco, I helped Theresa and her staff plant the garden. Unfortunately, I was unable to monitor the garden for the first six weeks, and the weeds got very large and deep. Therefore, the garden doesn’t look pretty, which is why there are no pictures of it.

I began to coordinate volunteers to help me weed. We began by meeting every Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. to pull weeds. We weren’t making much progress, so I added another day. We now also meet on Tuesdays from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m.  So far, I have had nine volunteers; most have joined me once. My most faithful volunteer is Thor Peterson, sustainability coordinator at Parkland.

In spite of the problems, I have been able to harvest approximately 450 pounds of produce!

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I am also providing recipes to the pantry clients. I try to furnish recipes that use more than one vegetable from the garden along with nonperishable
items available at the pantry.

As the season moves on and the summer vegetables are harvested, we will be planting vegetables to harvest in the fall.

Lastly, I began working with Dawn Longfellow, Wesley Food Pantry’s operations manager, on a name and graphic for the garden. Dawn is still working on the graphic, but we have decided on the name: “Parkland’s Pantry Produce Plot.” I’m hoping this project will continue for many years, and I plan to be involved past the end of my A w/Honors project.

[Theresa  Meers is an associate professor of ag/horticulture at Parkland.]

 

Feeding the Hungry on Campus, Sustainably

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten, including 52 percent of all fruits and vegetables and half of all seafood. Meanwhile, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank reports that one in four children in our region struggles with hunger.

Parkland Hospitality Program student Del Jacobs saw direct opportunity to connect the food waste and hunger dots when she enrolled in cooking classes and observed the amount of food ending up in the trash.

“I have been interested in sustainability for several years,” Del says, “and I decided to create a system at Parkland to reduce food waste while helping the hungry in our community.”

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Student Del Jacobs with baked goods for Parkland’s Wesley Food Pantry

Del worked with Hospitality, Horticulture, the Wesley Food Pantry and Chartwells (the contractor running Parkland’s cafeteria food service) to develop these food-security strategies:

  • Three times this semester, Hospitality’s baking class will bake goods to supply the food pantry. “The pantry’s clients love the food,” says Del, “and the students have the satisfaction of knowing their baked goods are reducing hunger in the community.”
  • Next spring, Horticulture students plan to plant a garden outside the pantry food to supply 30 families with fresh seasonal produce.
  • Chartwells agreed to divert vegetable scraps from its waste stream to create compost to enrich the soil in Horticulture’s garden.

In addition, Del is working with the Wesley Food Pantry to raise awareness among Parkland’s student body that the pantry can supplement their food needs.

“Parkland’s Hospitality Club will also focus its efforts on sustainability and community outreach,” says Del.

Student-led initiatives like Del’s show the power of sustainability and systems thinking: waste is often a resource that happens to find itself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Creating connections between people and programs can capture these neglected resources and not only put them to productive use, but also help weave together more resilient and humane communities.

[Thor Peterson is the Sustainability coordinator at Parkland College.]

Culinary students celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Swaying pinatas, Mariachi music, lime margaritas, guacamole, crispy tacos stuffed with meat and cheese… who doesn’t love Mexican food and fun?

With roots in the Mexican army’s victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, Cinco de Mayo has become a joyous annual worldwide celebration of tasty and colorful Mexican traditions.

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Students in Parkland’s culinary arts program learn that food preparation is so much more than the art of slicing and dicing. Parkland staff and students enjoy meals prepared and served by culinary students several times during the school year, often around holidays. Throughout their coursework at Parkland, culinary students gain hands-on experience in practical aspects of food preparation, from menu planning to budgeting to serving and cleanup.  They carry their own ideas out into a full catering experience just as it would be in the workplace. But perhaps the most important lesson they gain is about connections: shared meals connect us all in many ways, from family and friendship to culture and tradition.

Today, May 1, staff and students can enjoy an early celebration of Cinco de Mayo with a Mexican-inspired fiesta of tacos and toppings from 11am to 12:30pm (or until food runs out), in room X118, prepared by HPI 239 Catering students.

For more information on Parkland’s Hospitality program, visit our web page or comment below.