Kentway Café – Nourishing Bodies and Minds with the AARP Grant

Tuesday evenings from 5:00-7:00 are a joyous and uplifting occasion for both the volunteers of the Campus Kitchen at Kent State University (CKKSU) and the residents of Kentway Apartments, a 150-unit residential facility that is home to individuals 55 years and older who receive little to no income.  Each week, using mostly recovered food, we have been able to serve 50-75 people what our friend, Ralph Mills, is calling “the healthiest meal [he] gets a week.”  He says he is always excited for Tuesday evenings.  I couldn’t agree with you more, Ralph!

The Enrichment Coordinator at Family and Community Services, Sandy Halem, says that there is a noticeable “positive effect in not only their physical health, but also their mental health.”  Many of the residents do not have extended family to interact with on a daily basis.  This leaves them lonely and unmotivated to cook for themselves resulting in them either skipping meals or eating many empty calories.  Getting them together over a nutrient dense meal has nourished their bodies, lifted their spirits, and created a growing community between the residents of Kentway Apartments and the students of Kent State.

Since starting the meal program, residents have organized their own game nights on Saturdays and there is even talk of starting a community garden behind the apartment complex.  Volunteers will have the opportunity to help install raised beds and care for the garden.  This is a great opportunity for residents to have something to care for throughout the seasons and an activity to look forward to doing each day.

Getting to know the residents of Kentway Apartments over the last several months has been an honor for me.  I enjoy seeing them while running errands around town and love hearing their many stories and words of wisdom.  I know this community has already and will continue to bless CKKSU volunteers, like myself.

If you’re interested in impacting your community through Campus Kitchens, then join one of our information sessions by registering here. For more information on CKKSU, please email campuskitchen@kent.edu.

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