Willimantic, Conn. – In an ongoing effort to provide hands-on learning experiences for students and strengthen ties with the local community, Eastern Connecticut State University began a partnership with the Windham nonprofit organization CLiCK this May. CLiCK (Commercially Licensed Cooperative Kitchen, Inc.) offers a culinary education/cooking facility and community garden for local people and organizations.
“CLiCK is excited to have Eastern as our first educational/institutional member,” said Maraiah Popeleski, general manager of CLiCK. “This membership will give the university access to the teaching kitchen to enhance existing nutrition curriculum as well as provide internship opportunities for students. Eastern faculty may bring students to CLiCK to gain a better understanding of sustainable food systems, by touring the vegetable garden, fruit orchard and thriving honey bee hives.”
With an emphasis on locally-sourced, healthy foods, CLiCK aims to educate and train residents of eastern Connecticut through its commercially licensed kitchen, located at 41 Club Road, Windham.
“By improving public health, nutrition education and community outreach, CLiCK is an organization that exemplifies Eastern’s mission of ‘putting theory to practice,’” said Carmen Cid, dean of Eastern’s School of Arts and Sciences. “Eastern provides a liberal arts education practically applied, and CLiCK is a great example of how that can be done to improve the life of our multicultural community.”
Many of Eastern’s new and longstanding academic programs have real-world implications that will benefit from the CLiCK partnership. From programs in health sciences to sustainable studies, social work and business administration, “CLiCK offers the use of their teaching kitchen where faculty and students can hold classes and events, as well as learning opportunities in the community garden on the property,” said Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Eastern.
A goal of CLiCK is to provide access to a commercially licensed kitchen for small businesses and interested residents. “Eastern students and faculty can apply what they are learning and teaching in class to assist the small businesses connected to CLiCK through a variety of volunteer and internship opportunities,” said Silcox.
While the partnership is new, Eastern has been involved with CLiCK for years. For example, student interns with Eastern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) helped CLiCK obtain and set up a large composting unit so that they can turn food scraps back into soil.
“CLiCK is a great example of an organization that is addressing sustainability at the local level by increasing the availability of nutritious, locally grown food in our community,” said ISE Director Lynn Stoddard. “We look forward to additional learning experiences and a continued partnership with CLiCK.”