The Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College (CKGC) operates every Tuesday-Thursday, preparing meals and prepping for activities for their community partners. Every Tuesday, they cook for a program called “More Than a Meal,” which provides senior citizens with not only a meal but also a friend. Students don’t just deliver the meal and leave, but instead, stay and enjoy the meal with them. On Wednesdays, CKGC prepares meals for “The Circles,” a local program that supports families as they create plans to build their way out of poverty. On Thursdays, CKGC prepares food for an English as a Second Language (ESL) program hosted by their school’s Center for Public Service.
Through each of these programs, CKGC demonstrates how they beyond the meal. They also work alongside senior centers in their area, specifically Biglerville Senior Center and Gettysburg Area Senior Center, to provide family-style lunches and dinners several times a semester. Relationships built during these meals help ease the feeling of isolation some senior citizens face. Recently, CKGC found a creative way to bring more programming to these meals.
CKGC held their first Paint Night in February, and they had six seniors come to express their artistic talent. This programming was made possible with the support of a grant from the AARP Foundation. The grant made this event possible as we were able to purchase the art supplies needed, including the canvases, paints, and brushes. The leadership team and program coordinators made banana nut muffins the day before to enjoy as a snack during the event as the participants followed along with a student volunteer from the art department. The attendees loved the painting and truly enjoyed the social aspect and relaxing atmosphere of the event. Due to the success of their first event, they held additional Paint Nights in April. The Paint Night events are an excellent way to build community and learn new talents. Smiles spread across the faces of the participants serves as proof of the Paint Nights’ success.
CKGC also initiated their first exercise class at the Gettysburg Area Senior Center in March. During one of our usual dinners, a member from the leadership team ran a short exercise class using resistance bands with the seniors to get them moving! CKGC was able to purchase the bands through the ARRP Foundation grant funds.
For other Campus Kitchens hoping to host a similar style of event, Samantha Pfeffer at CKGC has some advice: “talk to the managers of their local senior centers… they can find out what the seniors want. Do they want to paint? To exercise? To play games?” She suggests that once these questions have been answered, programming can be developed to suit the desires and needs of the seniors. One of the most important things, Samantha says, is for volunteers at the events to bring an energetic and encouraging attitude.
The Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College has tuned in to the needs of their community in order to serve its needs. What can you do to adapt your programming to best serve your clients?