Executive Director Cindy Eggleston explains why the Community Kitchen is important.
March 04, 2016
The Mukwonago Food Pantry in Mukwonago, Wisconsin opened in 1989 by community visionaries, Cindy Eggleston, Dorothy Stanke and Debbie Hoppe. For 27 years, the food pantry has served the Mukwonago and surrounding communities, providing-- among many things-- energy assistance, backpacks for schools, medical assistance and surplus food. In Nov. 2013, the food pantry was given a vacant building one block away that would be large enough to accommodate future services. It was in the area of food that Cindy Eggleston had a vision. What if, instead of offering up canned and frozen convenience foods, the food pantry could help families grow, preserve and cook fresh food at home? It was then that the idea of the MFP Community Kitchen was born. The newly acquired vacant building would allow us to expand; offering a healthier eating lifestyle. Ms. Eggleston reached out to Milwaukee's Remolding Innovations Group (RIG) a general contractor who specializes in kitchen remodeling and is known for quality craftsmanship coupled with superior products, outstanding value & total commitment to their projects with a very hands-on approach. RIG was called upon to assess water damage in the southwestern portion of the building located at 225 Eagle Lake Avenue where Ms. Eggleston hoped to build a working residential-style classroom kitchen. Plans for renovation began quickly. Ms. Eggleston next reached out to Milwaukee's Sustainable|Kitchens, a scratch food-focused consulting firm known for creating sustainability-focused food service operations. S|K would be tasked to develop operational systems, class curriculum, and the recipes to be prepared in the new space. Rounding out the trio, Boelter of Milwaukee, a food service equipment and supply company joined the project to supply the kitchen design and the eventual equipment. The Community Kitchen will be reflective of those "Home Economics Classrooms" of a bygone era. All food canned, preserved, dehydrated or otherwise prepared by families and individuals will be taken home when complete for them to enjoy. In addition to RIG, Sustainable|Kitchens and the Boelter Companies, the MFP Resource Center has established fresh produce donations with Micheal Fields Organic Farming in East Troy, The Hunger Task Force Farm in Franklin and local farmers in the surrounding communities. The UW Extension Nutrition Educators have conducted classes in healthy eating and nutrition with us for several years. Norris Adolescent Center and School District is also interested in this project. Now we need your help. We are looking to raise the funds necessary to renovate this area of the MFP Resource Center into a working classroom kitchen, procure residential kitchen equipment, and develop (as well as staff) the cooking classes which we aim to offer at the Center to enrich and improve the lives of the residents of the Mukwonago area . The monies will be used for construction, equipment and the labor costs needed to get the Community Kitchen up and running! We are hoping to begin construction in the Spring of 2016. The MFP Community Kitchen aspires to help all area residents to increase health, resourcefulness and to help them live a satisfying and sustainable life. The impact of obesity on communicable diseases threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems. Projections indicate that the current generation of children might be the first who have shorter life expectancies than their parents. As a result, nutrition education is paramount in our community. Without practical, firsthand experience in preparing foods and learning about nutrition, choice and control are diminished and dependence on processed and fast food emerges. Vocational training of economics and nutrition provide the only opportunity for lower-income families to learn about "real" food and hands-on preparation and ultimately practical application in the home kitchen. We will be endlessly appreciative and thankful for your assistance in bringing this very essential resource to fruition!