NOURISH Farm-to-Family Philanthropy, students in local culinary arts programs, and guests in local shelter programs have teamed up for "Mission: Apple Rescue" to supplement the food supplies at The Salvation Army and the Boys & Girls Club.
Carol Christensen, founder of NOURISH, saw hundreds of pounds of apples going to waste due to a windstorm and premature cold temperatures and contacted Karen Sullivan and Kathy Wiesman, instructors of Culinary Arts at Sheboygan North High School, and Jill Lewinski, instructor of Consumer Education at Kohler High School, to offer a last-minute community service opportunity to their students
Sheboygan North Culinary Students from left to right: Morgan Depies, Clarissa Freis, Kree Reis-Jackson and Michael Shaw. The students made a total of 40 Cinnamon Apple Crumble Pies and 10 gallons of applesauce.
"These apples needed to be picked within 1 to 2 days, which could be accomplished, but then what?" Christensen said. "NOURISH team members alone couldn't possibly store or process the hundreds of pounds of apples. Karen, Kathy and Jill were both gracious and creative enough to come up with some wonderful and delicious solutions."
Those solutions come in the form of apple pies, applesauce and apple crisp to help feed struggling families and children in local shelter and after-school programs.
Sullivan and Wiesman estimate the aspiring young chefs will prepare over 30 Dutch apple pies and 30 batches of chunky applesauce. "Even though our schedule was completely packed through the end of the semester, Kathy and I feel that service work is always a valuable learning experience," Sullivan said. "The students said the project was fun, they were glad to help out the community, and hoped everyone would enjoy the pies and applesauce and can hardly wait to make their own pies."
Lewinski's students will prepare apple crisp for 60 children involved in an after-school program run by the Boys & Girls Club. Christensen noted that Lewinski has always been more than willing to provide any assistance to NOURISH at the drop of a hat. "Jill told me, 'I am always ready to help, just tell me what you need, where you need it and we'll be there.'"
Homeless shelter guests are helping, too. Alongside NOURISH, The Salvation Army and Bridgeway-SCIO shelter guests have washed and prepared apples and fresh vegetable snacks for hungry children at the Boys & Girls Club. Local apples have even found their way to Safe Harbor Domestic Abuse Shelter, where with a little instruction from NOURISH culinary professionals, the shelter guests make applesauce for The Salvation Army.
"In our first year, NOURISH has managed to foster a chain reaction of 'paying it forward,'" said Executive Chef Mike Zeller, director of culinary for the philanthropy. "We have had the chance to tour several local organic farms and learn about sustainable agriculture. We have been able to prepare meals at many Sheboygan shelters and the Boys & Girls Club with the freshly-picked produce, educating underprivileged people about the value of local and healthy foods. This has encouraged and enabled the homeless and hungry to help each other. In turn, the farmers are now offering some extra produce at no charge to the shelters and after-school programs. We're starting to see success in our most important missions of gracious teaching and paying it forward."
Although the main component of NOURISH consists of purchasing shares and leading small group tours at sponsoring organic farms during the growing season, Christensen said she is always looking for more ways to maximize and stretch the overabundance of fresh food in Sheboygan County. One of the first orders of business was to establish a "harvest hotline" for farmers to call for a last-minute plea to save food that would otherwise go to waste unless harvested
She continues to be amazed by Sheboygan County's overwhelmingly positive response to NOURISH. "People like Karen, Kathy, Jill, their students, and struggling families are all enthusiastically embracing our program and are coming up with delightful and effective new ideas everyday on how to increase our reach," Christensen said. "It's like the Energizer Bunny: we keep going and going."
Carol Christensen, Founder and Head Tour Guide
P.O. Box 911
Sheboygan, WI 53082
NOURISH is a program of the Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization (SCIO), an agency of the United Way of Sheboygan and Plymouth.