USI Food and Nutrition students volunteer their time to plan, prep and deliver nutritious snacks each week for 25 students in the after-school program at Patchwork Central, a non-profit near downtown Evansville.
While serving local youth, they're learning to develop and prepare recipes, stick to a budget and navigate food allergies and perishability restrictions. Amy Doninger, Senior Administrative Assistant for the Food and Nutrition Program, assists by doing the grocery shopping.
"It's one of the few community types of projects that we were able to organize for our students ... with 95% of the work happening here on campus," said Beth Young, Instructor in Food and Nutrition, who oversees the project.
The USI Food and Nutrition Student Organization (FNSO) also provides meals at the Ronald McDonald House each semester. The students held a pie fundraiser before the Thanksgiving holiday in which they raised around $500.
“We sold a total of 80 pies and they were a variety of pecan, pumpkin and apple,” said Casey Hand, FNSO president. “We volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House each semester, preparing a meal for the residents and this requires FNSO to purchase the ingredients out of our account. Members of FNSO had expressed that they were interested in providing these residents with a meal more than once a semester, so we plan to use some of the funds we raised to provide the Ronald McDonald House with more meals.”
Hand said to her knowledge, this is the first year FNSO has done a Thanksgiving pie fundraiser. “The idea came about because some semesters, we do take-home meals for faculty and staff during finals week, and usually have a successful fundraiser with that,” she said. “Since we wouldn't be on campus for finals week, we needed to come up with something similar that could take place before we left for Thanksgiving break. We thought we might sell around 30 pies, so we were shocked and ecstatic to have such success selling 80 pies. A lot of planning, time and effort was put into getting the ingredients and actually making the pies. There were over 20 volunteer hours logged total, with multiple people volunteering across a three-day time span.”
Because the FNSO plans to use the money raised during the fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, the student organization was nominated for a Leadership Everyone award and will be recognized at the 26th annual “Celebration of Leadership,” which was held virtually on March 18. Hand said that being nominated for this award is “the pat on the back I think everyone needs after the hard work put in during a unique semester.”