Berks hospitality management majors present veggie research project to community

Student presents vegetable research to community members
Credit: Theo Anderson

WYOMISSING, Pa. – Penn State Berks hospitality management students presented the results of their "veggie" research and recipe project to local community members on April 22 at Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Downtown Campus. The presentation was delivered in both English and Spanish.

Hospitality management majors included third-year students Ana Morales Abreu, Bridgette Engel, Matthew Gambino and Maria Belen Morales; and second-year students Maya Dolan and Frances Maguire.

“The veggie project pilot was designed around two key pillars: sustainable food and community health,” explained Pauline Milwood, associate professor of hospitality management and coordinator of the program. “We focused on sourcing fresh vegetables and importantly, preparation methods which support nutrient density. The project also provided a great opportunity for our hospitality management students to use their nutrition and recipe standardization knowledge to benefit members of the elderly population in the City of Reading.”

The project's first phase required students to research a vegetable product and its classification, origin, nutritional value, sustainable sourcing and use in Pennsylvania.

Phase two entailed creating recipes based on their findings with their vegetable as the star ingredient. Vegetables included beetroot, Brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, snap peas and tomatoes. Each recipe is focused on the health and wellness of the Berks County senior community.

Recipes included beetroot brownies, roasted balsamic Brussels sprouts, carrot ginger soup, kale and sweet potato bowl, snap pea soup and stuffed tomatoes. Students also offered tips on how to maximize the use of their chosen vegetables. Phase three concluded with students’ research presentations and a veggie basket with a published recipe booklet for community members.

“It was great to connect with the local senior community and share the many benefits of our vegetables and offer them a simple yet flavorful method of preparation,” said Ana Morales Abreu, a third-year hospitality management student. “I am also very grateful for the opportunity to have presented my research in Spanish, allowing our Spanish-speaking seniors to engage fully with the findings.”

Community partners included Penn State Health St. Joseph's Family and Community Medicine; the Veggie Rx program, a collaboration between Penn State Health St. Joseph and Penn State Berks; RDG Fresh Market; the Berks LaunchBox; and Hoober Produce.

For more information about the hospitality management program at Penn State Berks, contact Milwood at [email protected].