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EUGENE, Ore. – Did you know there’s a food project that makes free, nutritious meals for people battling life-threatening illnesses? It’s happening right here in Eugene – a non-profit called the “Positive Community Kitchen.”
The kitchen relies heavily on donations and volunteers. But the PCK is truly a win-win for everyone involved. People who are sick and unable to cook receive the nutrition they need to recover – and then there are the volunteers. Many of them are teenagers, and it’s important for the kitchen that they’re involved. For 3 years, the PCK has been making healthy, organic meals for clients with severe illnesses
“A lot of our clients are cancer patients but we aren’t limited just to cancer,” said Program Coordinator Andrea Wolf.
Time and energy are put into each meal. Head Chef Cody Fuqua believes food is nature’s medicine. He stays away from red meat and dairy, but does his best to get produce from the Willamette Valley.
“We try to just eat the rainbow here. I try to make sure every week we have very colorful foods,” said Fuqua.
Ingredients that Cherrie Olson appreciates.
“I have not seen anything like this anywhere else,” said recipient Cherrie Olson. “And I’ve been reading all these different diets for cancer and stuff and that is exactly what they are serving me; It’s organic.”
Olson is battling a rare cancer. She knows how difficult it can be to take care of yourself.
“It’s hard to find what you should eat and you don’t feel like preparing it,” she said.
So, about 40 volunteers prepare the meals for Olson and others like her. Many of them are high school students, fulfilling their community service hours before graduation, but they quickly learn they’re gaining much more.
“Honestly, I’ve never really cooked before. I never learned to cook, so this has been fun for me,” said 16-year-old Griffith Bell of Marist High School.
Best of all, these volunteers are making a difference in their community at a young age. 17-year-old Marin Emrick of South Eugene High said she looks forward to the work.
“What I like most is the environment and the vibe that I get from coming here. It’s like everyone is so happy to, like, do positive things,” said Emrick.
Currently, the kitchen cooks for 15 clients and their families. The meals are delivered right to the families homes and the volunteers who deliver these meals are affectionately called the “Delivery Angels.”
While many in the kitchen don’t get to interact with the clients, Lead Delivery Angel Sally Wiley sees the gratitude.
“You know the kids would run to the door say ‘dinner is here’ and they want to look through the bags,” said Wiley.
From the garden, to the kitchen, and finally at the table, the PCK has created a community that helps one another.
As Olson puts it: “It’s cooked with love. I said if love could cure, I’d be well by now.”
The kitchen prepares meals once a week. After 12 weeks, they add new clients to the list. This month, the PCK will be making meals twice a week to serve double the amount of clients. The kitchen is also working on getting their own garden so that kids can learn where their food comes from.