Final Reflection Essay

John Muckerman

UNIV 211

Professor Boaz

12/7/14

Final Exam: Reflective Essay

When I first signed up for Food for Thought, I did so not really knowing what I was getting myself into. I picked it because I needed a non-business class elective and I just genuinely like food and cooking so I thought it would be a perfect fit. I soon realized that this class wasn’t going to be a piece of cake (no pun intended). The point of the class was to work with a client but also blog throughout the year about our experiences and also other assignments. We learned how impactful food is to all of us and how some struggle each an every day just to get food. The class worked with three different organizations all right here in Richmond, which shows how relevant the hunger problem is in almost every big city. Although this class was more challenging than expected, I am proud of myself for sticking through it and glad that I learned such valuable material along the way.

Before this class began, I had no idea that VCU had a food pantry for students who couldn’t afford a meal plan. When I heard a little information about the three organizations we could choose from I knew the VCU Ram Pantry was the one I wanted to work with. I love my school and I wanted to help out my fellow classmates that are less fortunate. Working with the Ram Pantry seemed like a luxury compared to what I was hearing about from the other groups. We had Terrence Walker who was ready and willing to let us do just about anything (except burn the place down) to help the Ram Pantry grow. He was very good at communicating with our group and our group was good at communicating with him.

Volunteering at the ram pantry was one of my favorite parts of the class because I gained an enormous amount of real-world experience. Usually the most important things you learn in life are the intangibles and this class gave me the opportunity to do exactly that. I am very proud that the ram pantry group brought new and exciting ideas to the ram pantry. The most influential idea that our group brought to the ram pantry was the making of food samples. This was really fun for me because I love cooking and also trying new things. One of the biggest problems Terrence had at the pantry was the fact that they had all this fresh and beautiful produce, but none of the students who used the pantry were taking any of it. So we decided to make food samples to show them that they can make great tasting meals that are very simple. By doing this I think we encouraged more people to broaden their palate and to try new foods. I am very happy with what we did at the ram pantry this semester and I think we have set them up for even more success in the future years.

(Below is a picture of me volunteering at the Ram Pantry making food samples)

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Another aspect of the class that I am proud to say I accomplished is helping with the ram pantry’s social media. This was one of the more challenging things that the ram pantry group had to deal with because it is not easy to basically start a social media from the ground up. We started both a twitter and Instagram account and managed to get about 100 followers on twitter and 103 on Instagram. Creating and managing these social media platforms is something that I can put on my résumé`. We learned from a first hand experience how important social media can be to an organization and for us to have done this for a non-profit while still in school is pretty amazing. The hardest thing about starting the social media was obviously gaining followers. It was difficult because many people didn’t know what the ram pantry was and also they didn’t have an incentive to follow them. Looking back, I believe that it would have been a better idea if we promoted the ram pantry to gain awareness rather than jumping straight into the social medias. Also a problem that I found with the social media is the fact that people simply didn’t have the interest to follow them. I do see where these people are coming from because there really is no point in someone who doesn’t use the ram pantry to follow them. I’m not sure how this issue could be avoided going forward, but it is something that should be addressed in the future.

Another portion of my experiences in this course that I would like to reflect on comes from my blog. I really enjoyed doing the makes this semester and I wish we could have started them earlier in the year because it felt a little rushed towards the end of the semester. My favorite make had to be the memes because I had always seen them before but never created one so it was a great opportunity to do so. I think that they are a good way to get a message across in a humorous fashion. My favorite meme that I created was the one seen below. It is of two pistachios’ that look like they are about to kiss and reads, “Make food not war.” I like this one because it is the most aesthetically pleasing and is also a bit funny, if I do say so myself.

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Another make that I enjoyed was doing the food desert pictograph to visually show how difficult it is for some people to get food from a grocery store. I liked this make because I had never heard of a food desert before and it really opened up my eyes to see some of the peoples struggle. The pictograph the route that some have to take that live in the east end of Richmond. The pictograph shows that if you left at noon you would get to the Food Lion at 12:35 PM and you wouldn’t get home until 2:26 PM! This assignment opened my eyes to see why people who live in these food desert areas are practically forced to eat unhealthy fast food instead of being able to get fresh produce.

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My last make that I enjoyed doing was the food art. I thought this make was the most fun to do because it was the most hands-on out of all the makes. This make was challenging because it takes a lot more artistic ability than I expected. It definitely made me have a new outlook on food in general and how it can be turned into beautiful art. Below is my favorite food art picture that I took. It is of a simple potato that I dug a small hole in and put a bunch of sprinkles inside. I liked this one the most because I turned a basic old potato that isn’t very exciting and through all these bright colored sprinkles inside to show the contrary.

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Looking back I am really happy that I took this class. It was much more challenging than I expected but it was totally worth it. I gained so much real-world experience and things that I will put on my résumé`. I do wish we got to do things such as cook during class but I understand that we didn’t have all the necessary resources to do so. This class had a lot of aspects to it and sometimes it felt to be a little too much work. We had many different expectations that seemed to overlap each other. For instance, we had to read articles, chapters from books and watch long lectures, then blog about it, and finally we had to volunteer as much as we could. This got to be a little overwhelming at some points with the amount of other work from other classes. All in all it was a good course and I am glad I took it. It was challenging but there’s nothing wrong with a good challenge. I will recommend this elective to some of my friends because it is different and fun.

Links

 

http://rampages.us/muckermanjp/2014/11/06/my-3-memes/

  • Food Desert Make blog post

http://rampages.us/muckermanjp/2014/11/18/food-desert-piktograph/

  • Food art Make blog post

http://rampages.us/muckermanjp/2014/11/04/make-1-food-art/

  • Volunteering blog post

http://rampages.us/muckermanjp/2014/12/08/volunteering-at-the-pantry-chicken-chili-day/

 

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