Ecumenical Campus Ministry teaches vegan recipes virtually, provides food to students

Claire Wells prepared vegan jambalaya and cornbread on Twitch on Thursday, Feb. 25.

Ecumenical Campus Ministry introduced Real Food Live, a healthy and free meal opportunity inclusive to all community members, to their spring 2021 calendar. This year, they provide vegan options on the menu.

Christian Watkins, director and campus pastor, said ECM always focused on making sure Kansas State students have a welcoming and inclusive space since the ministry’s beginning 70 years ago.

Amelia Richter, senior in biology and development intern, said Real Food Live was born out of a pre-covid program called Real Food Lunch, which began at K-State a decade ago.

Because of the COVID-19 virus, the ministry worried people may not have access to the food they needed and wanted to continue to impact people’s lives.

“One of the things we thought about really intentionally once COVID was a part of our every day was, ‘What do we want to keep? What are things that are ECM essentials and what are the things we need to let go of?'” Wilkins said.

“[Real Food Lunch] was a community weekly meal that focused on high-quality food … specifically in vegan food,” Richter said. “Vegan food allows for this opportunity that we can share this meal with people who have allergies or different religious or dietary needs.”

Richter said Real Food Lunch acted as a core program for ECM and because of the pandemic, the group couldn’t meet in person anymore.

“We turned to this online format of Real Food Lunch, which we call Real Food Live, which was designed to capture our favorite parts of it — coming together as a community, learning how to cook these healthy foods for us, then having food on a weekly basis for the people around us,” Richter said.

Claire Wells, drama therapy graduate student and RFL coordinator intern, provides step-by-step cooking instructions over Twitch. She creates an experience with her audience by responding to comments and asking questions while she cooks.

Watkins said beside Wells being the coordinator making sure that the puzzle pieces fit together, ECM also has a food representative for when guest cooks come.

“It allows people from other countries, in cultural context, [to] come cook food and then share about their background or share about why the food matters,” Watkins said. “We do not only do this for fun but because there’s a lot of food insecurity in Manhattan.”

Wells said they look forward to gathering safely in the future but they enjoy this sort of connection.

EMC hosts Real Food Live at 6 p.m. every Thursday. Guest cook Soumya Biryani will teach the audience how to cook an Indian dish on March 4.

Viewers can sign up to receive the prepared meal every Friday between 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at 904 Sunset Ave.