Homemade brings healthy meals and community to students

Homemade brings healthy meals and community to students

Photo Credits: Cover of Homemade at UC Davis' cookbook, “Homemade.” (Homemade at UC Davis / Courtesy)

New organization gives students an opportunity to give back and connect with others while learning new recipes

Homemade is a new and vibrant student-run organization that aims to help students cook tasty meals that are still nutritious. With members sending in their recipes, this organization has crafted a blended list of all types of foods from different cultures. While the organization has been in the works since Sept. 2019, it was not a public organization until last April. 

In order to become a member, students can request to join their organization on Aggie Life. When a new quarter begins, Homemade sends out an interest form where students provide their information and why they want to join. This gives Homemade board members a look into what members are looking for from the organization as they strive to fit their members’ wants and needs. 

Homemade allows students to send in their own recipes for a chance to be published on their blog or in their book. During their first quarter, Homemade had over 50 recipes sent in from students. While the organization focuses on providing students with the best and easiest meals, they also focus on giving back to the community. 

  Priyanka Basu, a third-year neurobiology, physiology and biology and American studies double major, is the founder and president of Homemade. She states that the motivation for creating an organization started with her own struggles. As someone who is 2,000 miles away from home and knows how easily buying food at the Memorial Union adds up, she created a club for students that shared her struggles and wanted to overcome them. 

“Food security so happens to be one of the most important things we can do for mind, body, and overall well being,” Basu said via email. “What seemed to be a daily hassle, was much greater than I expected, and so I finally decided to take the next step in not only helping myself improve my life nutritionally, but numerous other undergrads who were facing the same challenges.”

Because the club is centered around providing nutritious meals, board members thought it best to talk to nutritionists and dietician specialists. By seeking mentors in the community, the organization is able to give their members meals that they know are good for them. Homemade vice president Pallavi Malladi, a neurobiology, physiology and biology major, mentions the benefits of having the organization work so closely with nutritionists and dietician specialists.

“Having nutritionists, registered dieticians, and professors at speaker events allows our members to contact professionals if they choose to,” Malladi said via email. “By providing resources and contacts for different organizations within and beyond campus, we hope to ease some of the negative relationships students can have with food.”

Their mentors provide students with judgement-free speaker events on their research done with food, where they explain different food-related topics, like what protein is and what foods you get it from. Their mentors include Dr. Debbie Fetter, a UC Davis nutrition professor, along with three individuals that serve to educate others on food and healthy meals. 

“Not everything can be understood with the power of Google, and oftentimes we need guidance from specialists in the field to give us correct information,” Basu said via email. “Having security and trust in the information you receive is sometimes one of the leading ways you can change certain things in your life!”

The organization also focuses on giving back to the community. Through local programs, Homemade members teach children ages 8-14 how to make recipes that are easy to make and healthy to eat. Homemade partners with programs such as Hearts over Hands and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. They also have members that serve as food bank volunteers that help at Davis Community Meals. 

“Working with Hearts over Hands has been incredibly rewarding,” Malladi said via email. “All the students we see are so enthusiastic about hearing stories from our college lives. They also love to share their stories about their Zoom classes and how they keep busy! I’m glad I interact with folks and give them some company while their parents are working.” 

The club as a whole offers much more to students than just a few recipes. Despite meeting virtually, the organization brings students together as a community.

“I love how Homemade is not just a food club,” Malladi said via email. “We share nutrition resources, volunteer with kids after school, develop a blog and cookbook and hold Speaker events. There is so much to do for members, and we hope to bring even more opportunities in the coming months!” 

The focus on community provides members an outlet to give back. 

“It has been incredibly fulfilling,” Basu said via email. “We continue to hear from our members how much learning certain meals during meal-prep sessions has been so beneficial to them. Knowing that these small changes are helping students prepare their week and is allowing them to have a meal on their table every day has been making our days to say the least.”

While Homemade has always been online due to the pandemic, the club was started with the intention of being in-person. Members are excited for the future, where they can plan in-person meal prep and volunteer opportunities. 

“Being a part of Homemade helped me realize how important of a role food in itself plays, to bring together and connect people of different cultures, ages, and backgrounds,” said Neha Valluri, a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology major via email.  

The organization hasn’t faltered through the pandemic and is thriving with current members excited to learn more about cooking and keeping up with their meal prep. 

“I could never have imagined creating a club during a pandemic, figuring out technical logistics, and most importantly, getting members to engage in what seemed like the most un-engageable platform,” Basu said via email. “But weirdly enough, Homemade’s online presence has helped its growth tremendously. We are in constant contact with our members through email outlets, group chats, and meetings in order to reduce the monotony that quarantine has stamped on us all. It feels amazing to be able to stay active in our own homes, learn something new, as well as volunteer to help others in a contact-free environment.”

Homemade board members go the extra mile to make members feel included in a time where everything seems so impersonal over Zoom. 

“I love that Homemade creates a laid-back space to be creative in the kitchen,” said Carla Kong, a second-year managerial economics major. “Food brings people together, and I definitely feel like the Homemade community has been there to inspire me, support me and help me share my passion for cooking.”

Members can send in their recipes here for the publication of the book. The Homemade cookbook is available at Barnes and Noble. The proceeds from the book will go towards Feeding America. 

“I am most excited to see how much knowledge students can gain from this book,” Basu said via email. “It holds a number of tips from undergraduates themselves, recipes and insights from our mentors that are not found in any other self-made cookbook. It gives students’ perspectives in cultivating a healthier, and budget friendly life which I think is absolutely incredible.” 

Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org