Feature Story

Ohio Wesleyan Program Shares in Grant to Fight Hunger

June 15, 2015 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan’s student-taught Cooking Matters classes teach participants how to prepare the fresh produce they receive from local pantries. The program is overseen by the OWU Department of Health and Human Kinetics.

Ohio Wesleyan’s student-taught Cooking Matters classes teach participants how to prepare the fresh produce they receive from local pantries. The program, overseen by the OWU Department of Health and Human Kinetics, is sharing in grant funding to help fight hunger in Delaware.

Ohio Wesleyan University’s Department of Health and Human Kinetics is sharing in a $355,600 grant to battle hunger in Delaware County.

The OWU department will receive $12,600 to support its student-taught Cooking Matters classes.

The classes also focus on grocery shopping, food budgeting, and nutrition.

Ohio Wesleyan is one of eight organizations sharing in the new grant, awarded by United Way of Delaware County in partnership with the Delaware General Health District. The grant recipients, all members of the Delaware County Hunger Alliance, worked collaboratively to prepare the application and determine how the funds could be used most effectively.

“I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to expand this program, and for the support that the United Way and all of our collaborators have given us,” says Christopher L. Fink, Ph.D., chair of the OWU Health and Human Kinetics Department.

“Being involved in this work has been great for our students,” Fink continues. “They get to know our community members in a very direct and supportive way; they more deeply understand issues related to the challenges of our food system, especially for those who have few resources; and they learn to apply their academic understanding of health and nutrition in a real, complex environment. Additionally, they can demonstrate the caring and supportive qualities that make OWU students such a great group of people.”

Fink says the grant will allow the program to buy more cooking equipment and fund internships for students to coordinate Cooking Matters work in the community.

“We hope that this will extend to more Cooking Matters sessions per year,” he says, “as the Cooking Matters program is one of the key strategies to improve food insecurity in our community, as outlined in the Delaware General Health District’s Community Health Improvement Plan.”

Fink says the students use a facilitated-dialogue approach when teaching courses, working to encourage problem-solving and discussion among participants.

“Our course currently focuses on adults in our community, and each week, in addition to the course activities and meal that is prepared, the participants also take home a bag of groceries to prepare a meal for their families,” Fink says. “We teach the courses at the Delaware City Vineyard Church, which also runs a food pantry and twice-monthly meal, as the church was kind enough to offer space for us to teach it.”

Students in Ohio Wesleyan’s Health and Human Kinetics program typically are preparing for advanced study or careers in personal training, management, health promotion, or other related areas, and in allied health professions such as nursing, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. Learn more about the department at https://www.owu.edu/academics/departments-programs/department-of-health-and-human-kinetics/.

Read the full grant announcement, “Hunger Alliance Partners Receive Over $350,000.”