Parks & Rec. provides food for the soul

The Moorestown Parks and Recreation Department is very fortune to have a fully licensed, commercial kitchen “Community Kitchen” that was completed in 2015.

By: Amy Filippone, Dept. of Parks & Recreation

Food is elemental to everyone on many different levels. It’s presence in our cultural psyche seems to have increased exponentially — from 24-hour cooking shows and meal delivery services to food drives. The Moorestown Parks and Recreation Department is very fortune to have a fully licensed, commercial kitchen “Community Kitchen” that was completed in 2015.

This beautiful facility is on the third floor of the Church Street Recreation Center and has been growing its programs steadily over the past few years. Beyond wonderful cooking classes for adults and children (beginning in the second grade) like “Farm to Fork” where pumpkin ravioli is made from scratch, the Recreation Department also offers programs for the special needs community.

For the past five months, Wegman’s has partnered with Moorestown’s Community Kitchen and provided much needed pantry items. Wegman’s has donated staples like bottled water, flour, sugar, salt and butter that impact all culinary and baking programs as well as the afterschool program for high school students with special needs (S.M.A.S.H.), the vocational transition program for special needs and snacks for our Open Gym population.

“We support the communities that we’re part of. Most people just don’t know what they need until you get in a conversation with them. And that’s how this started,” said Todd Allen, Wegman’s Store manager. “It was just a conversation about finding out what you did — there is still a need in Moorestown, no matter what you think of Moorestown, there’s still a need there.”

Wegman’s chooses their philanthropic partnerships with great consideration and doesn’t just donate food or money without it having a greater impact on people’s lives.

So this fledgling relationship will hopefully grow and continue to impact the community. As Cyndi Roberts of the Parks and Rec Department said she through all the programs and determine what they will be using a lot of on a quarterly basis.

“When we submit our request, we have to be very specific — who it’s directed to, the name and description of the program,” Roberts said. “The food staples we’ve received from Wegman’s have offset our costs in all of the programming, which can be substantial. Food programs are expensive and Wegman’s contribution has reduced our program food costs by 20 to 25 percent, that’s a lot.”

Wegman’s does many wonderful things throughout the community from food donations to sending out teams of experienced staff to empower all kinds of people. Hopefully we can continue to tap this deep resource.

Please go to www.moorestownrec.com to register for our current culinary and baking classes.