The smell of fresh seafood wafted through the halls of Everett Community College last Thursday, as students got the chance to cook in-person for their sustainable food systems class. This was the first time that students in nutrition 180 met in-person since the pandemic. Students met at Monte Cristo Hall, a seemingly abandoned building, to prepare this week’s food theme, sustainable seafood.
Nutrition 180 has been completely remote since spring quarter of 2020, facing multiple unique challenges. One of those challenges was incorporating a curriculum where students cooked appearing on camera, while buying and preparing food in their own kitchen. The class integrated two curriculums with two teachers, Laura Wild and Katy Levenhagen. Together they teach students about how to be more sustainable by cooking from home and spreading awareness of the faults of our current food system.
Student Lorna Burns was “more than excited,” to cook in-person, explaining “it allows for us to share the excitement of trying these new foods with the class.” During remote learning, students were offered multiple recipes that fit the theme of the week, allowing them to choose what they wanted.
The downfall was not being able to share the food with others. Reviewing, enjoying and learning is critical to the experience of nutrition 180.
Angelina Meikle praises the class saying, “I was most surprised by the amount of times I thought, ‘wow, I had no idea!’ Every week, I learned something new.” Each week students learned about topics ranging from the effects of conventional agriculture, local community outreach and ways on how sustainability reaches into every corner of our lives. With spring quarter wrapping up, their second and final lab will be Thursday, June 10.
Even with only two in-person meet-ups, Wild had a strenuous time getting permission for her students to be allowed in the kitchen. She recalls having to go through several steps, and even creating a multipage presentation with hand-drawn pictures of the windows, to present her case on ensuring COVID-19 safety protocols.
This isn’t the first hurdle nutrition 180 has had to overcome. The course has been moved around campus five times in the last 11 years since its inception. The college plans to relocate the class once again, as EvCC goes under another remodel, with plans to tear down Monte Cristo Hall.
The now fully furnished kitchen is a major upgrade from its meager beginning. Students previously only had one handwashing sink to do a class worth of dishes rather than the three sink system that can be seen today. Ovens previously were a pipe dream, as they used plug-in appliances such as small grills. They also used a dorm room refrigerator to store perishable food.
The non-traditional course has always been fighting for its right at EvCC, with the administration hesitant to see its value. With the help of people inside and outside of the college, the course has grown from the ground up. The foundation of the class is built on community, working together to educate and spread awareness about the affects of our current food system. The class does this in theory and practice as everything used in the kitchen has been donated, recycled or grown in the campus garden.
With the class being the odd ball out since it’s not a typical science or nutrition class, Wild relies on students to find value from the class, to prove to the administration that the “class is necessary” for the students of the future. She recalls “students who have taken the class come back to tell me how valuable it’s been,” ensuring the need to prioritize the class’s continuation.
Wild wasn’t sure if she would continue the course in the future if it was exclusively remote. But now with fall quarter being in person, Wild plans to continue with class as long as she can. She believes that “we need people to come together to solve the world’s problems… that’s something you can’t get as much online.”