WIN’s summer campers serve up ‘Fun with Food’

Posted in Culinary, Feature, More Stories, Photo essay

Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
September 2, 2015

Since 2007 Whidbey Island Nourishes (WIN) has been on a mission to resolve food insecurity for children in the community with over 20,000 free sack lunches each year prepared by a team of volunteers. WIN has partnered with the school district to create a community garden, operated by Cary Peterson, to provide fruit and vegetables for this effort.

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Kayla Shorey reaches for a strawberry to add to her fruit skewer.

“Fun with Food,” a 10-week summer camp, culminated with a Gala luncheon on Thursday, Aug. 26 for 50 donors, staff and volunteers. The meal was prepared by the campers with produce harvested from the garden, with guidance from Orchard Kitchen’s Lyn Kiernan and others. The celebratory gala marks the ‘graduation’ of 25 students, ages 5-12.

“Fun with Food” is WIN’s second pilot teaching program, expanding WIN’s programs into teaching children about food in the garden and cooking with that same produce in the kitchen. They learn skills including cooking methods, the importance of nutrition, creativity with foods and the science behind cooking. The results of this pilot further WIN’s efforts to develop educational programs that could be included in the school classrooms.

“We feel that when children see how food grows—tasting fresh beans off the vine and carrots plucked from the fertile soil—they experience life,” said Kristi O’Donnell, program co-coordinator. “In the kitchen, they learn skills to preserve, prepare and present food. These ‘good turns’ of teaching will nurture the kids their entire lives.”

To support and learn more about Whidbey Island Nourishes, visit their website:

image1Watermelon hulls with skewer masts make fun sailboats and pirate ships. Barb Schiltz  (right) coaches Savanna Allen and Ramiyah Degrace-Kyles: the heavier fruit needs to be engineered at the bottom of the skewers so as not to topple the ship.

image 2Peterson, Ryan Hodges and Jacob Faucher munch fresh carrots, harvested minutes earlier.

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Peterson selects the best beans.

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The kids decorate tables with fresh fruit, flowers, vegetables and drawings of their favorite activities at the camp. Making “gimy, slimy, gofer guts!!!” topped the list, but fruit pizzas and the bean teepee also rated.image 5

Alohi Elliott strives for perfection.


Hibiscus Tea, prepared and poured by Mary Fisher, WIN founder

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Matthew Snyder says he could live for one week in the bean teepee, which will shelter, shade and feed him.

image 7Peterson raises the heavy $10,000 check from WIN to the school district for the garden!

image 8Wilson Castle receives his certificate from Kristi O’Donnell. Tiffany Paine is about to award him with a medallion.

image 9Campers proudly carry the feast in a grand procession from the WIN garden kitchen to the Gala pavilion.

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image 11Volunteer Jelcy Romberg pauses among other volunteers, donors and staff as they enjoy the feast of homemade artisan crackers, kale confetti salad, caprese, asian quinoa with ginger dressing and Cary’s garden tacos.  Lyn Kiernan from Orchard Kitchen assisted with menu planning and meal preparation.

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David Welton is a retired physician, staff photographer (and occasional writer) for Whidbey Life magazine.


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  1. My six year old granddaughter, Mari, was a part of this program and participated in th luncheon. Later that day, she said “I love pesto”. Since she’s not a particularly adventurous eater, I was so surprised. But she told me that she was involved in cooking it for the luncheon. Thr next week she visited, we wnt out for pizza and asked for pesto to be added to her slice! I was thrilled. She told me later that she really liked th pesto she had made at camp because the one on her pizza was “too spicy”. She and I are now going to harvest some basil and make pesto together. This makes me so happy! Thank you teachers and WIN volunteers!

    • There is a message that my comment is “awaiting moderation”. Is there something more I need to do? Bernita.

      • Bernita; Your comment is published. There is a little lag time between your submission and posting because we review all comments before they go “live” because of spammers and folks that don’t mind their manners. Thank you!

    • Benita-thanks for you comment, thanks for sharing your story, it shows the power of this wonderful program!

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