Cleary University was able to make the finishing touches to its new community kitchen with the donation of $6,000 from the Gannett Co. Inc. Gannett Foundation. Gannett is the parent company of the Livingston Daily.
“We are so thrilled to receive such a generous check amount to help support this project for the community,” said Matt Bennett, senior vice president of institutional advancement at Cleary.
The money from the Gannett Foundation will be used for the final touches of the kitchen before its grand opening, including the purchase of kitchen utensils, pots and pans, and the possibility of a locker unit for storage.
The grand opening of the 1,350-square-foot kitchen at the Wellness Center will be March 10 from 4-6 p.m.
“This is another opportunity for to serve our community because there was such a need for this kitchen,” said Jason Boyers, Cleary University president. “This is going to provide education value to our students and to the community.”
The kitchen’s purpose, which is formally called the Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander Foundation Community Demonstration Kitchen, is to connect the university with the community, allowing families to learn how to cook simple and healthy meals.
After evaluating potential sites, Cleary’s administration felt the Wellness Center, 955 Grand Oaks Drive in Genoa Township, would be the best location for the project.
With a capacity of 80 patrons, the kitchen features a large, open cooking space with an island, a double convection oven, four-burner gas range with downdraft vent, a full-size refrigerator and freezer, a prep sink, a dishwasher, and plenty of cabinet space for cooking storage. An angled mirror hangs above the island to provide cooking class participants a better view of the cooking demonstration.
The kitchen will be available for rent based on availability for community education events, Bennett said.
Although the Livingston Educational Service Agency and the McPherson Mansion also offer cooking classes with a demonstration kitchen in Howell, the hours and days of operation have been limited.
“The demonstration kitchen at Cleary will now allow increased scheduling flexibility of course offerings, thus allowing us to reach more families,” said Penny Baumeier, Fit By Choice founder and pediatrician.
“The Great Foodini,” Renee Chodkowski, has already started her eight-week course in the kitchen.
“We actually did a demonstration in the kitchen in November when the kitchen was complete,” Bennett explained. “As the students were transferring to the new student housing on campus, we had a Thanksgiving dinner prepared for them.”