Food for Thought. The name itself aspires to be an interesting class in my mind. When I first walked into class I was thinking it would be a simple, easy going class that discusses interesting questions of society. However, to my surprise it was a social service class. Not only that, but we moved from out small desk-filled classroom to a new one with all sorts of chairs and new technology. Of those new technologies we did use a few of them. We had blogs that made our ideas publicly known and worked as a place to store our assignments and discuss our experiences in class and out. We also used laptops, projectors, and desktops in the classroom in order to better present any new information we received over the semester. I was worried that I wouldn’t end up volunteering enough or that I wouldn’t like the place I volunteered at. Luckily there was a place right on campus within the three options. The RamPantry was a great place to volunteer. The staff was very nice and it was run by students for students, with the exception of Terrance. Terrance was very lenient and always wanted to go along with our ideas in hopes that his own project, the RamPantry, would grow into something that would help countless students. http://rampages.us/maurerzs/orientation/
The RamPantry group was composed of about 15 people, at first, and none of us knew one another. In fact, the group was so big people had to leave to go fill the Peter Paul and Reestablish Richmond groups. Soon we were discussing who would be doing what for the group, there was the social media team, the volunteering team, and a filler team to a little of everything. Now within these subgroups we split up in order to build team synergy. I was in a group with Tori, Ella, and Sabrina and while none of us knew exactly what we would be doing we took on the assignments happily and progressed into the semester soon to become the friendly group we ended up with. The little projects we did within the groups helped us connect with one another; Fears in a Hat, survival scenarios, charades, and going to Starbucks. These activities helped us get to know each other for when we would be working at the pantry together. http://rampages.us/maurerzs/team-building-exercises/ http://rampages.us/maurerzs/animal-charades/ http://rampages.us/maurerzs/starbucks-the-team-building-activity/ http://rampages.us/maurerzs/team-building-exercise-back-to-back-drawing/
Once we had completed all the team-building activates we started to brainstorm ideas for what we could offer the pantry. We decided on making samples of different food options that could be made using ingredients from the pantry. The first week we made sautéed squash and zucchini. I had never tried zucchini before and our samples were very good. We handed the samples out to students and offered them printouts of the recipes if they were interested. We thought this was a useful idea for the pantry because they often times had particular foods that were not taken, while other types of food ran out. Our group decided the best way to get people to take the food that was less likely to be chosen was to offer interesting ways to cook them into meals that are both healthy and quick. http://rampages.us/maurerzs/rampantry/
In class we did a lot of different things to learn about food advocacy. One of the activities was to go out and pick look at the ingredients used in commonly eaten food. We went during class and flocked to convenience stores then came back to class and discussed our findings. People chose everything from candy bars to ravioli. Each type of food seemed to be unhealthier than we had previously imagined. The ravioli was a tiny cup, contained two servings, and nearly had an entire day’s worth of sodium in it. Candy bars and sodas had more than a full day’s intake for sugar. Most of the foods that were brought up were things that I had eaten or do still eat. I never thought to check to see if it were unhealthy, because it was so quick and tastes great. http://rampages.us/maurerzs/salt-sugar-fat/
MAKEs were a big part of the last month of our class time. We spent many weeks discussing what we could do to make our organizations better known. While we had been using social media for this purpose, we didn’t seem to be attracting enough students. Our twitter, Instagram, and Facebook only had a few friends / followers. After midterm we discussed our ideas for different MAKEs that could be used with our pantries in order to spread the word to more people. We had a bunch of different ideas floating around and we ended up making memes, videos, infographics, collages, pictures, and all sorts of different interesting things that we hoped would attract more people to come to our pantry. As a member of the RamPantry we had to reach out to other students. On the other hand, the groups that worked with Peter Paul and Reestablish Richmond had to appeal to an older audience that were poor and lacked time and transportation. My group posted all those MAKEs to our different social media in an attempt for people to notice us at least a little more. http://rampages.us/maurerzs/makes-meme/ http://rampages.us/maurerzs/make-infographic-re-imagined/
This class helped to open my eyes to different parts of our college that I would not have noticed had I not taken this class. I had never heard of the RamPantry before, and while I knew about pantries it was nice to learn more about the different people that need them and how they work. The students we interacted with were happy, not ashamed to be there and most of them enjoyed our cooking. In my previous Focused Inquiry classes we discusses food in depth and even discussed food deserts and why there is a need for pantries. However, this class helped to increase my knowledge of why these places exist and the kinds of people that need them, from the ones that work multiple jobs and still cannot afford to go grocery shopping to the people that live miles away from a grocery store and have no transportation to get there. In the beginning of the semester we had tons of readings and lectures and videos to watch and take notes on then reflect on with our own ideas. These taught me different reasons for the food being so unhealthy and expensive on some places. Through these teachings I learned new things about the lifecycles of the cows and chickens, not to mention the disgusting environments that they live in. Although there were hard times in this class where I felt I would never recover and be forced to withdraw, I had numerous unique experiences with my classmates and the RamPantry that no other class has to offer.