Construct Lowell Area Youth to Help Provide Healthy Meals to Gilda’s Club Members

Construct Lowell Area Youth (CLAY) is an organization which has helping community youth learn practical life skills.  Focusing on high school students, they held a Leadership Summit last fall after being founded nearly two years ago.  Starting next month, CLAY has partner with The Revive and Thrive Project to a similar program to Lowell.  This endeavor will give high school students the experience of preparing healthy meals under the guidance volunteers with cooking experience and local chefs.  Once meals are prepared, they will be packaged and delivered to local cancer patients. The program will take place over the course of 12 Mondays at First Congregational Church.  

Culinary Experience While Helping Others
Flat River Outreach Ministries Executive Director Dawn Broene met a representative from The Revive and Thrive project at a business luncheon and liked the idea of offering free, healthy meals to those dealing with a serious medical issue.  An introduction and conversation led to starting an initiative in Lowell.

Bob Rogers serves on the board for both FROM and CLAY.  Yet another connection was made to make the program possible.  Teaching high school students how to prepare healthy meals and working with Gilda’s Club Lowell to help local families dealing with cancer not have to worry about meal preparation results in positives all around.

First Congregational Church has a commercial kitchen which will be staging area during the 12 week program to prepare and package meals.  Their kitchen is also used each Thursday for Open Table, a free meal offered to all who would like to partake each week.  High school students will work beside volunteers with food preparation experience to learn how to make healthy meals, under the direction of a professional chef.  CLAY is looking for local farmers and businesses to donate items used to prepare the meals and will also purchase what is needed, locally whenever possible.

Through referral by Gilda’s Club of Lowell, two to six cancer patients will receive three entrees, soup, salad, and dessert each Monday evening throughout the 12 week program.  Students numbering 10-20 will gain experience in the kitchen and learn how healthy eating is attainable.

The program will target at-risk high school students, giving those attending Unity High School priority when filling open spots.  Any remaining vacancies will be filled through working with councilors at Lowell High School for recommendations. Ideally, one volunteer will work with two or three students each week.  

Sign Up to Participate or Volunteer
Those looking to participate as a student or volunteer with culinary experience can sign up at the CLAY website event page.  Students and volunteer home chefs are asked to sign up for one of two (or both) six-week sessions – June 4 – July 9 and July 16 – Aug. 20.  Culinary experts can sign up for one week at a time and are encouraged to volunteer as much as possible to help make the program a success. Those with questions can also use the CLAY contact page for inquiries.  

Each Monday, students and volunteers will spend approximately six hours (1 pm – 7 pm) preparing, making, and packaging food.  It will then be delivered families established as needing help with meals. CLAY hopes the initial 12 week program will be a success and be able to continue it into the fall, with hopes of offering this opportunity to students and families in need on a year-round basis.

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