Ivy Tech Health Sciences faculty and students find opportunity in waste

When Janelle Gresla, Assistant Professor of Ivy Tech Fort Wayne’s Health Care Specialist Program, began teaching the Meal Planning class in fall 2018, she quickly found a way to turn excess food into an opportunity for giving. In the class, students learn to cook for individuals with a variety of health concerns including respiratory issues, allergies, and diabetes. Along with learning the health science concepts, the students get to experience hands-on learning though cooking meals.

So what was the problem?  There was way too much food being thrown away.

“When I started here last fall, we had all this extra food because the students have to cook each thing that’s in the book,” says Janelle. “They were just wasting food, and I thought, why can’t we just take all the extra food and give it to local families in need?”

Last month, Janelle and her students had enough extra food to feed five families in northeast Indiana. They’ve reached out beyond Allen County and have served individuals and families in Adams and Wabash counties as well.

The best part for Janelle is the reaction her students have to their community outreach.

“It’s a great feeling when you see these students getting excited about giving back to the community,” says Janelle. “They’re so enthusiastic that they sometimes start boxing up the food before the class can sample and critique it.”

Emily Tiedeman

“This class has made me realize how we have to think differently for people who have certain ailments or illnesses,” says nursing student Emily Tiedeman. “We also take food to people who are shut-ins or elderly who can’t cook for themselves. That’s been the best part of this class because we’re helping someone else while learning.”

Janelle is looking for more families in need of these donations. If you know anyone who could use a meal, please call 260-480-2092 or email jgresla@ivytech.edu.

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