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Wednesdays with Whitney: Spice Drive!

Chopping, measuring, stirring, and taste-testing! We have kept our Rising Stars, a group of folks from Penquis/Charlotte White's day program, quite busy over the last couple years. And what a rewarding experience it has been for all involved!

Tyler Parkhurst (Northern Light Mayo Hospital Nutrition Services Supervisor) and I have been lending a hand with PRFC’s Spice Drive Program for the last couple years. It is hard to believe that we have been incorporating this program into our monthly schedule for that long. We continue to look forward to the outing each month.

The familiar faces of the Rising Stars always have a way of brightening your day. Their energy and enthusiasm for the program is inspiring. No matter what is on the menu they are always up for the challenge. I remember participants’ hesitation in the first few months with using a knife or calculating a measurement. It has been exciting to see their skills develop and their confidence grow as they become far more comfortable using a knife to cut challenging vegetables like sweet potatoes. It has shown that practice and encouragement can go a long way.

The conversations held while preparing a meal are some of the best. The cook times often allow us to answer Rising Star’s burning food and nutrition questions. We have had the opportunity to discuss numerable nutrients in foods, the benefits colors of vegetables bring to our bodies, how to read nutrition labels, what foods contain carbohydrates and so much more. The Rising Stars are always eager to learn and never hesitate to say what is on their mind. Having the opportunity to share and explore with them is invaluable.

Often ingredients are new to participants. Our recipes may include foods they have not tried before or different combinations of ingredients. To see the reactions and expressions on their faces is almost as exciting as trying a new food yourself!

As with any time we gather around food, the pure joy and happiness it brings to any group is beyond words. Coming together around food, for a common cause, and to eventually be served to the community is what it is all about. And to be a small part of this reignites my sense of purpose in what I do.

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