On March 1 and 2, students from Shenandoah University, George Mason University, Gonzaga College High School and Gettysburg College gathered at Gettysburg College for a weekend of cross-chapter collaboration and inspiration. The weekend kicked off by preparing a community meal together in Gettysburg’s kitchen which is housed in a community resource hub with other community programs. The unique kitchen setting sparked conversation on the Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College’s (CKGC) role in the food access network and as scratch-cooked meatballs seared on the stove, students shared about their own Campus Kitchens experiences.
After cooking the food, students headed to a local senior center to serve and eat a community meal with the residents. After eating, a CKGC Student Leader led volunteers and residents in a seated exercise lesson. One student reflected that the dinner went “beyond the meal” and was a great cross-section of both fitness and anti-isolation. Students ended the day brainstorming about their own chapters. Shenandoah and George Mason’s discussed potentially increasing meal quantities while Gonzaga College High School students thought of ways to connect interpersonally with clients.
On Saturday, students attended presentations that added community and academic context to the previous day’s volunteer experience. The day started with a session on designing Beyond the Meal programming from a community asset-based lens, followed by a panel of local organizations and groups that spoke about addressing food access and the intersections of their work. Students got the opportunity to speak with experts from The Adams County Food Policy Council, The Gleaning Project, the Adams County Farmers Market and Painted Turtle Farm. To close out the day, Kim Davidson of the Adams County Food Policy Council contextualized the panel discussion by giving students a tour of Gettysburg’s on-campus Painted Turtle Farm. After a weekend of collaboration, Students headed back to their campuses with new energy to improve and expand the ways that their chapters respond to their communities’ greatest needs.