Replenish empowers students with budget cooking demonstration


Courtesy / Bernadine Carey Tucker

Autumn Pitchure, Staff Reporter

Food intake can have a direct impact on aspects of life such as the ability to focus in class, stay energized throughout the day, and overall happiness and well being. But money can often become a barrier for college students when it comes to purchasing the food they need. That’s why Grand Valley State University’s Center for Women and Gender Equity is providing a cooking demonstration using minimal food items to show students how to cook their own meals and make the most of their food within a narrow budget. 

The cooking demo will be held Thursday, Nov. 14, from 12-1 p.m. It will be located at the Kirkhof Center in the Center for Women and Gender Equity, room 1201. Jody Vogelzang, a Registered Dietitian at GVSU, will be putting on the demonstrations and showcasing how students can be more comfortable and confident in the kitchen, as well as utilizing food items that are readily available at Replenish, GVSU’s food resource.

“When Jody does a cooking demo for our center, I will often give her a specific item,” said Sharalle Arnold, Associate Director of the Center for Women and Gender Equity. “Then she will come up with a creative way to use this item in cooking a meal. This shows students how to use very minimal items when cooking.”

Vogelzang will provide students with a recipe and an instructional demonstration. Students are encouraged to participate while the cooking demos are live. They can practice cooking a meal and be readily prepared to use the recipe at home, giving students a positive, hands-on experience. Afterwards, students will be able to sample the meal they helped prepare.

“The last few times, if she needs carrots cut up, she will have the student cutting up the carrots,” Arnold said. “She will have the students oiling the pan and cutting up onions. She tries to get students involved.”

Ramen noodles are an easy go-to meal that a lot of college students whip up straight from their cupboards. Though a cheap option for students, the meal often has no source of nutrition. The cooking demo will be a unique way for students to learn how to incorporate some beneficial ingredients into foods as basic as ramen.

“She will be using ramen noodles as a base for the cooking demo since this item is available in Replenish,” Arnold said. “Jody understands the value of food. Even though a bowl of ramen noodles doesn’t do much, maybe when you put in some fresh carrots and parsley, the herbs and vegetables do something to your overall health in that they increase the nutritional value.”

Several financial struggles can limit students’ access to food. Replenish provides students several food options free of charge. The cooking demo will show how students can make the most with the food resources that they have.

“This is an opportunity to enhance confidence, grow curiosity and it’s a life skill,” Arnold said. “We all engage with food. Learning how to prepare it, how to purchase it, how to cater to your likes, your palette and grow your palette is very important for students.”

Going from having meals cooked for them in high school to cooking all their own meals in college can be a drastic change for students. It’s important for students to achieve good nutrition while enjoying delicious meals that they have the abilities to make themselves. Learning how to develop these basic skills can improve overall health over a lifetime. 

“This is one way the Center for Women and Gender Equity supports their students as well as their life skills development,” Arnold said. “We want to empower them to be more confident in the kitchen.”