Today, was the day I was most excited about when I received my volunteer schedule. I volunteered in the Nutrition Kitchen, at the Church Health Center Wellness Center. I had heard of the Church Health Center. Most of the Church Health Center is located on Peabody Ave in Midtown. But, I had never been to the Church Health Center Wellness Center, which is located on Union Ave. The Wellness Center offers exercise facilities, fitness classes, smoking cessation counseling, health education, and nutritional cooking classes. I had the opportunity to take place in the nutritional cooking classes. Cooking classes are held on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Thursdays, the day I volunteered, the cooking classes are held at 9 am, 10:30 am, and 4 pm. Thursdays at the wellness center are community days; which means that the center is open to members and non-members, making Thursdays quite busy.
I love to cook and try new recipes so I felt very prepared for this day of my volunteer odyssey. When I arrived in the Nutrition Kitchen, Carolyn and Jimmy, greeted me. Carolyn is the nutritionist and instructor and Jimmy is her assistant. Carolyn explained how the classes and kitchen work; then promptly got me into a hat and apron, putting me to work. I chopped cilantro, and broccoli; I had happened to come on vegetable day. That meant lots of chopping was necessary.
Then, when I finished my chopping duties, it was time to begin the 9 am class. On this particular vegetable day we made salsa two ways, and marinated vegetables. The first salsa we made was mango; it features black beans, corn, pineapple, and mangoes. For our next recipe, we made a fresh tomato salsa; that used fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, bell pepper, and garlic; it was made in the food processor. After Carolyn, the nutritionist and instructor, finished her demonstration, making these salsas, I passed out samples to all of the class attendees. We almost had a full house for this class, about 20 people. Following the salsas, we made the marinated vegetables; which incorporated carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms. When this was finished, I also passed out samples. After this class I cleaned the student stations, and helped prep for the next class. We then did it all over again for the 10:30 class.
I really enjoyed my time with Carolyn and Jimmy in the nutrition kitchen; the goal of these cooking classes is to demonstrate how to easily cook healthier foods. Vegetable day showed those in the class how easy, and delicious it can be to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. The nutrition kitchen teaches how to cook what they already know, in a healthier way, and to expose people to foods they may not have tried before. The day I volunteered many people had never eaten mangoes. I would love to go back for another cooking class, and I think most of us could benefit from eating healthier.
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