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Serving Up Food and Life 101

D.C. high school students and older adults both benefit from meals program

Sharing ideas and recipes

Gonzaga students are challenged by their Campus Kitchen coordinator, Patricia Tobin, to come up with ways to involve their clients in the school community.

In July, student volunteers invited seniors to come to the school to offer feedback on how to improve their meal service.

At first, the clients had nothing but praise for them. Tobin tried to make them understand they really did want constructive criticism. "Praise doesn't help us," she told them. "I know one problem we have. Sometimes the different foods in the compartments get mixed together. What could we do about that?"

Finally, Oscar Sparrow, 63, raised his voice. "What you all need is a Radio Flyer wagon," he said, to keep the containers level while they're being transported in insulated bags.

That broke the ice. It turns out the clients didn't like pasta, but there were many other foods they enjoyed, like greens and sweet potatoes. There was just one problem: The students didn't know how to cook their favorites.

So one of the clients, Ruby Watson, 70, a retired custodial worker, came one afternoon and taught the boys how to make gravy. Ivey Broome, 65, a retired tow truck driver raised in North Carolina, offered to teach them how to make barbecue. And some parents and church volunteers taught them how to make greens, candied yams and sweet potato pie.

Next: Generations mingle. >>