More Than Just a Meal

Food is both a biological necessity and a social centerpiece; it holds a special kind of power that can create agency and joyful engagement. Twice a week, a group from Community Involvement Programs  has the wonderful opportunity to spend the day cooking. Here’s a look into what we do!

First, we work together to choose a menu for the day. This week, we chose a common favorite: pasta. We headed to the store to pick up groceries.

Megan shopping for ingredients.

Megan shopping for ingredients.

We have twenty-five dollars to spend on groceries that comes out of the CIP Participant Fund. This fund provides essential items for individuals in our services who need support for their employment or volunteer activities, housing, medical or transportation needs. In Day Services, we have the opportunity to request funding for groups to use when it will particularly enrich what we are able to do in our community.


LT, Jay, Brian, Megan

People really enjoy the freedom of grocery shopping, because many don’t have this opportunity at home. They get to choose what ingredients to buy, carry the basket, check for coupons, and help keep track of how much we are spending.

A neat chance that Cooking Group provides is for people to try new foods and explore healthier options than they may normally choose. On this day, Megan decided that she was going to try onion and spinach, two foods that she thought she disliked, and she ended up loving them!

The grocery shopping process takes much combined effort and strategy while people work together to get the most out of the money. At the checkout, we split up the twenty-five dollars so that everyone has a five dollar bill to contribute towards paying.

Megan and Jay in the kitchen.

Megan and Jay in the kitchen.

Thanks to the fantastic people of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, we are able to use a full service kitchen alongside members of our community. We lay out the food, discuss the steps that go into the preparation, and get down to business.

People have the opportunity to do things like practice knife skills and use a stove, all while having fun with peers out in the community.

When everything has been prepared, we happily gather around to enjoy a meal together. This is a wonderful time because it provides us the opportunity to converse and grow to know each other better.


When LT started with us, Cooking Group was where he really began to open up with his peers and make valuable connections.


LT enjoying a cookie.

Now it’s one of his favorite days each week and it wouldn’t be the same without his silly wit!



Cooking Group is truly a special opportunity for us to work together in the community to create so much more than just a delicious meal!DSC_6111


Author and photo credits: Raena Davison, Community Support Specialist


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