A Hard-Earned Celebration - Capital Area Food Bank
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A Hard-Earned Celebration

By Admin April 17, 2008

This is OFL Coordinator Becky Handforth’s blog debut. Becky will surely be contributing to our blog regularly. In this first post, she reflects on a recent graduation class.
Some days work doesn’t seem at all like work. It seems too fun, too fulfilling, too inspiring to be called a job. One of those days was Monday.
The culmination of every Operation Frontline series is a graduation day, during which we celebrate six weeks of learning, friendships and dedication. Throughout each Eating Right adult series, we provide participants with healthy ingredients so they can recreate in-class recipes for their families. The hope is that by the end of the series, the participants will have honed some new cooking skills and will be more apt to incorporate healthier meals into their lives. This series was no exception. We decided to have pot luck on graduation day so the participants could display their cultural backgrounds and kitchen confidence.
One thing I must mention about this series is that the cultures were abundant. Including the volunteers, we had individuals from Holland, Nigeria, El Salvador, Ethiopia and the United States, along with two avid travelers (Ona and meJ). Three languages were spoken each week-a tricky feat. The participants were surprisingly open to trying new foods, which made the class feel successful from day one. We prepared everything from apple crisp to beet soup to pasta carbonara with yogurt.

On Monday, we had a joyous time playing MyPyramid Bingo, partaking in various home-made foods, and conducting our own mini graduation ceremony. Despite the fact that I ate a small lunch earlier in the day, I found room inside my stomach to eat another plate full of fruit salad, mashed butternut squash, coconut rice, chicken tamales, fresh bread, Ethiopian inspired lentils and vegetables and injera. What a feast!

I wish you could meet all the participants because describing a few of them here doesn’t begin to point out the obvious…they were great! One lady came more than an hour each week with her toddler son to attend the classes. Another woman called the day of our grocery class to say she wouldn’t be able to attend because she had delivered her baby that morning. We had a teenage mother participate faithfully for all six weeks, even though she does not cook a lot just yet. By graduation, this mother had also returned to high school to finish her studies.

Our one male participant works in the kitchen at the site, cooking nutritious, culturally diverse meals for the kids who attend daycare. In between his chef position and his second job, he attended the classes and helped us navigate the kitchen. Our Ethiopian women were truly open-minded. A lot of the food we cooked was very different from their traditional fare, yet they always showed interest in the kitchen and tasted every meal we created.

Today at a department lunch, we were asked to share our highs and lows from the past week. The first thing that came to my mind was this graduation class. My job is always interesting and high-energy, but on Monday my job suddenly became a celebration with friends. I hope I relish this moment for weeks to come.