They plan meals together, budget and shop together, cook together. But these people aren’t families or roommates. They are students at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.
Students prepare meals in the collective kitchen of Fanshawe campus ministry.
The Christian Reformed Campus Ministry at the college is running a collective kitchen program to help meet the social and nutritional needs of students.
Currently in its pilot year, the program has been well received. Up to eight students per event gather at Good News CRC, five minutes from campus, where they are joined by volunteers from the church.
After the planning and the shopping, they cook about 325 nutritious, ready-to-eat meals. Students pay $25 each for ingredients; at the end of the three-hour event, they take home 30 to 35 ready-to-eat meals that can be frozen until needed.
After the cooking, the entire group shares a fellowship meal.
“Nurturing community is our number-one goal,” said CRC chaplain Kelly Sibthorpe, “with food being secondary—the means by which to achieve that goal.”
The campus ministry partnered with Good News CRC and the college’s accessibility and counseling service to create the program after a survey of students revealed that money, nutrition, and community were the top three greatest needs. The program receives help from Deb Roukema of First CRC in London, who has a lot of experience coordinating collective kitchens.
The program targets mature students, who make up 15 percent of the student population, and who may work or lead families as well as focusing on studies.
“Mature students face financial, spiritual, and social stresses that are not experienced by first intake students,” said Sibthorpe. He hopes to ease some of these stresses with the collective kitchen and other ministries offered by the campus ministry.