Two days, 35 volunteers and 120 prepared meals added up to one great Food Day celebration for UNC Asheville this year. On Oct. 26 and 27. 2016, UNC Asheville faculty, staff and student volunteers headed out into local community gardens to share “Stone Soup” and stories.
To create a “Stone Soup” meal—based on the folktale where everyone in a small village contributes one ingredient to create a bountiful soup for everyone—volunteers started cooking early in UNC Asheville’s Teaching Kitchen the day before with donated ingredients. Soup was on the menu, of course, as well as healthy spreads for homemade bread, which was prepared by Lenior-Rhyne University’s dietetic students, and delicious baked apples for dessert.
For the students in UNC Asheville’s Food Politics class, hosting these community meals in the nearby Shiloh Community Garden and GreenOpportunity’s Southside Kitchen was an opportunity to take their studies to a new level.
“We talk about it in class all the time, but to actually go out and interact with the community and get that first hand experience, it felt really rewarding to make an impact,” said sophomore Anna Mitchell. “I could see that in the way we talked to the kids and we showed them the food, they’d started to think of it differently.”
“I think food connects people,” said Ana Balzano, a sophomore who decided to take the course after studying “Food Matters” in her freshman English course, Language 120. “A lot of the events we did in Lang 120 I think connected us as a class, and I feel that last week at Shiloh the same thing happened with all of us.”
The meals included story sharing with community members and projects with the kids, like making grape soda from homemade grape syrup from campus garden grapes and seltzer water. The opportunity to spend the celebration in local community gardens was especially meaningful to the students.
“We talked about how community gardens can implement change in the food system from the ground up,” said Amy Lanou, chair and professor of health and wellness, “so we decided to hold the Food Day events in community gardens, where that kind of work is actually happening.”
The Food Politics students will hold an additional event on campus celebrating community, food, and community gardens at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21 in the Mission Health System Mountain View Room in the Sherrill Center. In the “Gratitude. Gardens. Gathering.” event, students will cook up a free, healthy feast largely from local foods to share over conversation and discussion with anyone who wants to attend from the campus community. To sign up, RSVP here.