Cooking From the Heart
Through Baked Love, a home-cooked meal is a way to share more than food.
"Most people think of Vermont as a predominantly
white world of farmers," says Ashley Greenfield
'13, a biology major who is also a cook and baker. "But
come up to Burlington and it's a melting pot of cultures,
people and languages. We get to see it all because we feed
For four years, Greenfield spent Thursday afternoons and
evenings making meals and mentoring young friends at the
Winooski Teen Center through Baked Love, a program run
through MOVE. "We cook whatever they want us to cook,
anything from pizza to quesadillas to pasta."
Over her four years with Baked Love, Greenfield
and her fellow volunteers made it their business to
creatively acquire, prepare and share food in a variety of
ways, whether it was making lasagna for a newly arrived
immigrant family, baking loaves of bread for elderly
neighbors or turning out batches of
cookies for local school kids or
"We like cookies. That's
our biggie," Greenfield
says. "We're big on
oatmeal raisin and sugar
cookies." This year, she
and seven Baked Love
regulars also cooked two
family meals each month to
deliver, she says, "but then we
also do 'appreciation bakes' -
usually cookies - for organizations
in the community like Ronald
McDonald House or a Cancer Patient Center, or the
Committee on Temporary Shelter or fire, rescue and safety
workers. We're making sure the community gets thanked
for what they're doing."
To Greenfield, "the main thing is to be present for
others, giving back what we've taken from the community."
Baked Love began in 2008 when Meghan Kerrigan '11
joined an extended service trip through the college to a
Baltimore food-relief station. One day, after serving, she
was "disgusted" by huge bags filled with donated bread
that were going to waste for lack of a slicer or adequate
manpower to slice it.
"So after our shift as servers, some of us took the bags
of bread and just walked around the neighborhood handing
it out to moms coming out of school, dads coming out of
Dunkin' Donuts." It made Kerrigan realize how much food
waste goes on every day in America and how welcome a
grassroots food outreach might be.
Back in Vermont she and friends began visiting local
restaurants or stores, seeking whatever food they had
to give away that might otherwise go to waste. "It very
quickly made me think about a program for St. Mike's that
could provide meals by trying to be creative with what was
handed to us," she says.
From the start, Baked Love has gone well beyond just
baking. As students collected food, Kerrigan says, they
would keep non-perishables in stock "and when we got
perishables, we'd say, 'who wants to get together and make
a meal?' and then we'd deliver it to a local family."
"The turnout was amazing from students whenever we'd
put out the call," Kerrigan says, "and soon I had developed
a model that had one aspect involving just quick drop-offs,
spur-of-the-moment things like bread delivery; and then
the meal part, which was very structured."
As a Saint Michael's student, Kerrigan traveled to
India and Ghana for service trips, which "really raised
my awareness that food waste is unacceptable." The goal
of Baked Love was and remains "to bring food relief and
share the excess resources in our community - it's out
there, so why not share it?" she says.
Kerrigan, an elementary education and anthropology
graduate, is now a social worker in the Burlington area and
still occasionally links Baked Love and potential clients.
Anna Jantsch '13, Kerrigan's first recruit and a first-year
student when Kerrigan was a senior, became the group's
leader after Kerrigan graduated, keeping interest at a high enough
level to sustain the program. Supplies and funds
for Baked Love efforts come from the MOVE budget with
some food donations from the Sodexho kitchen in Alliot
or the campus farmer's market/community garden. The
Center for Women and Gender provides a kitchen that
Baked Love students use regularly to prepare meals.
Baked Love has three juniors ready to take up leadership
in the fall.