As an organization fundamentally committed to eradicating food insecurity, part of our work concerns students who cook most of their own meals, as opposed to those who have steady or even erratic access to dining halls. Cooking affordable and nutritious meals for oneself is a skill that is hardly taught yet is necessary for a very large percentage of students, especially if they are not living on campus. Therefore Share Meals decided to host an Open Kitchen 1-2 times a year where members of the Share Meals team would use an on-campus kitchen and invite a guest to cook a wholesome meal and teach attendees to to cook for themselves.
A few weeks to a month prior to the event, a few members of the Share Meals team sit down to plan the menu along with a co-host with expertise in cooking and nutrition. All the details of quantity, cost, and practicality are fleshed out and noted in a document. Advertising and marketing for the event is done via social media as soon as the space is confirmed. Inquiries are sent to potential partner organizations and other campus food groups to invite further attendees, and non-food supplies (i.e. cutlery) for the event are secured.
On the day of the event, a member from the Share Meals team or the co-host makes a grocery run to purchase all the perishable items, and these are stored in a personal fridge until the time of the event. When it comes time for the event to start, Share Meals manages a sign-in sheet to keep in touch with attendees in the future.
In 2016, our Open Kitchen was live-streamed on Facebook, courtesy of Earl Co. The cooking host proceeds to demonstrate how to properly prepare and mix the ingredients, and each attendee is given a chance to try something on their own to participate in the cooking process. After the cooking is done, we all enjoy a hearty meal, pack away the leftovers, and return all borrowed materials.
Share Meals’ first Open Kitchen was in April 2015, hosted in the Weinstein Residence Hall’s community kitchen. Leanne Brown, a Steinhardt graduate and author of the book Good and Cheap, a cookbook of very affordable meals, led the instruction. The thirteen attendees all took part in cooking a 3 course vegetarian meal.
In April 2016, Share Meals hosted their second Open Kitchen, partnering with Club EAT. Zella Christenson led the eleven attending students in cooking a delicious meal of fried rice and granola. To promote sustainability and environmental awareness, NYU Dining Services provided reusable plates and utensils, reducing our waste.