Although I started off the summer worried about whether or not I would be able to handle figuring out what to make, ensuring food safety, explaining CKP to volunteers, facilitating and teaching volunteers, and everything else that goes on in a Campus Kitchens shift, while finishing on time, I now feel very comfortable in the kitchen. Now when I run out of protein for example and don't have anything defrosted I pop open the freezer, grab a bag and get to work defrosting it. And so far we've always managed to finish on time, or even early. So that has been a really good learning experience for me. As has receiving Community Supported Agriculture donations and produce from the Gettysburg Farmer's Market. I now know a few ways to prepare Bok Choy, Kale, and a bunch of other vegetables I hadn't handled much before. Including Kohlrabi which I didn't even know existed until this summer.

 

I've also really enjoyed working with our volunteers. The Campus Kitchen attracts a wide-variety of people and each shift has a different dynamic depending on who is in the kitchen. When we have college students, faculty or staff our conversations tend towards discussions of majors, departments and college news. Whereas when we have community members we talk about goings on in town, the heat wave and things to do in Gettysburg. And with our younger volunteers we discuss classes, school, activities, sports and such. I really enjoy that part of my job, it's fun to not know what we're going to talk about in the kitchen each day, and who exactly we'll have. I have also gotten to know some of our volunteers and that has been very rewarding.

 

Circles is another exciting part of our work. In fact in many ways it is the focal point of everything we do. Devan and I plan all week for Circles and put a lot of energy and thought into providing the best meal we can for that dinner, and then as soon as we're done with one Circles meal we move on to planning the next. But it's not only that planning and cooking a hot meal is fun and interesting, especially when we have to improvise or have odd ingredients to work with. But eating dinner with and talking to people from the community is a lot of fun. I've learned more about Gettysburg while at Circles this summer than I think I did in my first two years of college. And because we spend so much time in the kitchen it is nice to get out of the kitchen and talk to the people we are making meals for, and hear their stories and about the challenges they face. I wouldn't say that Circles has completely changed my world view, because I was at least somewhat aware of the inequalities in our society and the challenges faced by those in poverty, but I would say that Circles has added more of a personal aspect to my understanding of poverty and through Circles and working at CPS I have learned much more about the specific challenges. Like the gap between self-sufficiency and the end of benefits, the way so many people rely on emergency food systems and not efforts to help people get out of poverty, and even the flaws in some agencies designed at least in theory to help people.

 

There are of course still challenges for me at the Campus Kitchen. Over the summer I have been trying to find new donors for the kitchen, but that process is a very slow one. A few businesses agreed to donate, but haven't yet, and many businesses told us they didn't create waste. So that has been frustrating. I think the main challenge in getting businesses who are interested in donating is regularity. It seems to me that many of the businesses who were very enthusiastic at first do not donate because they eventually forget about CKP because of all the other things going on in their kitchens or businesses. So I'd like to figure out a way to help interested businesses start donating, without nagging them about Campus Kitchens and totally turning them off of the idea. I haven't really figured out how to do that yet, and I'm not sure how many donors the project will have added by the end of the summer, but luckily we have some very strong supporters, including the guys at Servo who have saved us on numerous occasions with generous donations.

 

Another large part of our work is preparing food for the winter. This is fun because though I have canned before I had never dehydrated food, and I had also only rarely frozen food from the garden. So now I know how to dehydrate potatoes, and a few other things that we haven't dehydrated but that we thought about dehydrating. And I also know how to prepare strawberries, sour cherries, apricots, peaches and sugar snap peas for freezing. So hopefully the program coordinators for the fall will have some vegetables and fruits to fall back on if they run low.

Carter McClintock, Campus Kitchens Project in Gettysburg

 

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