After years of being a student and resident advisor in college experiencing constant streams of homework, never-ending deadlines, and literally living where I worked, I promised myself I would find a job that I didn’t have to take home with me. Ironically, I now serve at Philip’s Academy Charter School, a Farm to School focused institution that has inspired me to do just what I promised I wouldn’t do! Although I manage to check my To Do List at the door when I get home, there are aspects of my FoodCorps service that I actively choose to bring home with me. For me, bringing inspiration from service home is the practice of “putting my money where my mouth is” when it comes to my passion and values.
How do I do it?
Most nights, I cook my own dinner.
Like we encourage our students at Philip’s to do, when I cook dinner for myself, I focus in on my connection to the food I’m preparing. I always begin the process with whole, raw produce and end experimenting with what spices and herbs and seasonings bring out the best flavors of the original ingredients. Most of my meals are simple, pretty tasty – if I do say so myself – and often store for 3 extra nights of quality leftovers.
Last night, I enjoyed Cuban Black Beans, sweet potato mash, with a helping of Swiss chard.
I grow my own kitchen herb garden
Just like my students, I still find this whimsy in the fact that I can plant a seed in the ground and watch it become a plant, and then I can eat that plant. My makeshift herb garden lets me revel in that whimsy even at home and it adds some much-needed greenery to our city apartment.
I make time to share a meal with someone special.
Once a week, I prepare dinner with my Abuela Mimi, my grandmother. I live with my Abuela in her 2-bedroom New Jersey apartment, overlooking New York City. One way I show my gratitude for my grandmother and all she does for me is by sharing a meal together. Some weeks, it’s a Sunday breakfast and others it’s a Wednesday dinner. The time we spend together around our perfectly square kitchen table is invaluable. It pays homage to the way that food brings communities of people together. It’s time peppered with laughter and story-sharing and lots and lots of love.
I commit to #TryThings!
“Try new things” is a bit of my service mantra. I’m always encouraging my students to be adventurous tasters in the cafeteria and brave explorers in the garden. “Try new things” is a bit of my life mantra now. In this year of service, I’ve dedicated time to garnering new experiences. For example, I’m learning how to knit. I’m also experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, and I’m trying my hand at salsa dancing with my FoodCorps New Jersey friends. This version of “bringing work home” is actually a bonus for me, as it reminds me daily why food is so central to all aspects of our day.