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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

NIU meal prep gives students chance to cook

Let them cook!
Kaitlyn Lee-Gordon
Ingredients for baked ziti sit on top of the counter while students work in the background on Monday at the Edible Campus Meal Prep event. Students can prepare homemade meals with vegetables from the Edible Campus gardens around campus. (Kaitlyn Lee-Gordon | Northern Star)

DeKALB NIU students looking for a healthy homemade meal can make it themselves at Wirtz Hall. 

Edible Campus Meal Prep offers a way for students to explore cooking in an environment where all necessary equipment, recipes and ingredients are provided. 

Students come with their own experience to try their hand in sustainable cooking while Chef Bryan Flower, assistant director for Food Systems Innovation, offers advice to techniques and answers questions concerning the recipes. 

The meal prep program is a branch of NIU’s Edible Campus sustainability efforts to provide students access to healthy, fresh foods. 

Flower said the program gives students a chance to work in the kitchen. 

“We grow food on campus that we bring to the meal prep program to give students opportunities to create meals that don’t have access to a kitchen; and therefore, if they went to the pantry, they couldn’t do anything with the product anyway,” Flower said.

Students are able to prepare five meals a week that can be safely reheated in a microwave. Preparation can be done with a partner or individually, and the program looks to include recipes on its website in the future. 

Christina Annerino, a senior sociology and nursing major, said the program is a great opportunity for students to access fresh foods.

“Being a college student, healthy food is really hard to budget for sometimes, and eating food that is healthy, like eating vegetables, usually ends up coming out of the freezer for me,” Annerino said. “But when I come here, I can actually get food that was grown in a local garden, and it comes fresh, and it wasn’t frozen, so it still has all its nutrients, and it’s just a lot better for me that way.”

Students prepared baked ziti on Monday with pattypan squash grown on campus from the Edible Campus gardens.

Athena Knowles, a junior health science major, said the meal prep program provides an alternative to dining hall food. 

“It lets students know that there is an opportunity out here to have food security, especially students who live on campus and don’t enjoy dining hall food as much,” Knowles said. “It also allows them an opportunity to learn and grow and find new ways to find food here on campus.”

Edible Campus Meal Prep is held from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Monday until the end of November in Wirtz Hall, Room 306. The next session will be Oct. 23.

Sessions are free, and students may use Edible Campus’s form to register. 

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