On Friday, April 7th, our OSS students culminated their participation in Y.O.U.’s “Food for Thought” program with a trip to UMASS Dartmouth, hosted by Executive Chef Kevin Gibbons. Shrieks and cheers abounded as the girls made their way through the dining hall, snaked through the industrial sized kitchen (“They make HOW many pizzas a day?!”), and descended upon Chef Kevin’s pride and joy: the Freight Farm.
The first of it’s kind in the area, this converted shipping container uses a hydroponic system and LED lights to grow 1.5 acres of lettuce to make “farm fresh” veggies available students (and hungry little visitors) each day. Their eyes lit up with excitement and their coats reflected neon purple as Chef Kevin shared lessons in sustainability and food security from among the hanging rows. The mental gears were turning, and the dots the girls were connecting nearly sent sparks out their ears! Little hands shot up one after another, filling the Y.O.U. staff with joy at the student’s interest and engagement. Could we possibly have more wonderful students?!
Following Freight Farm exploration the girls quickly shuffled back to the cafeteria, where they could barely control their giddiness at the sight of all-you-can-eat pizzas and crispy chicken fingers. Several plates and a tower of ice cream bowls later, the girls had explored topics ranging from factory farming and whole foods to future careers and college plans. Throughout human history, a meal is an invitation for a community to come together and nourish themselves with good food and great stories, and Y.O.U. is no different.
What an inspiration it is to see our students evolve through their time with us. Through moments in the Grange Kitchen to trips to Alderbrook Farm, we’ve watched children return each week with more confidence and new skills. There’s nothing like hearing a youngster share their excitement at being their family chef for a night, thanks to Food for Thought and our incredibly guest chefs.
Full bellies, new experiences and big smiles, that’s “Food for Thought”! We extend our most sincere gratitude to the many talented chefs who graced the Grange Kitchen and shared their passion with our youth. Time has told us very clearly that these experiences are never forgotten. We look forward to what the warmer months and new programs have to bring us, and will be happy to start our kitchen fires once again this winter.