Nourishing Mind and Body

August 25, 2015

For the residents of Food House, the road to personal development is paved with comfort food, cupcakes, and a community of growth and learning.

“As a first-year student, I had a floor that was very committed to creating a community,” says Sheva Greenwood ’16. “I wanted to make sure that I was going to continue getting that kind of interpersonal support. Food House in particular seemed like the place to be because I think that sometimes we put wellness on a back burner in college.”

At Food House, residents rally around the idea that cooking food together is a centering activity. It’s a break from the constant stress of classes, papers, and group projects. “Even the application is kind of funny,” Greenwood notes. “We have questions like ‘what is your relationship to garlic?’ and stuff like that.”

Greenwood, a Food House resident from 2013–15, sees project houses as an extension of the College’s ideal of self-governance. “It makes sense to me that as an extension of self-gov you have these spaces where people can really work out what their values are, work out what they want to do with their lives and how they want to live, in a more holistic way than just figuring out what they want as a future career.”

Residents of Food House cook “family dinners” together Sunday through Thursday, which are open to anyone on campus in search of a home-cooked meal and good company. They host fun outdoor movie nights, fancy cupcake soirees, and a Thanksgiving dinner for students who can’t go home for the holiday.

“For us, community building is not just for the members of Food House. We try to create ways for other people to connect to us,” Greenwood explains.

“Adulthood on Training Wheels”

Project houses like Food House are a long established tradition among Grinnellians. Past houses have included Music House, Art House, Dag House, Bird House, Bohemian House, and Tennis House. The project house program allows any group of 10–12 students to

  • unite in a common interest
  • delve deeper into their extracurricular passions
  • experiment with a more independent living situation.

Many students jokingly refer to project houses as “adulthood on training wheels.” They’re a way to learn the skills necessary to thrive after graduation while having a safety net of College support when needed.

That doesn’t just mean learning how to clean an oven or a toilet. It means learning how to say that you can’t eat another bite of that casserole your roommate made three weeks in a row. It means getting up the courage to ask everyone if they want to watch Broad City with you, even though you think they might be busy. It means learning to let loose and eat that weird recipe you found on Pinterest, just to see if it might taste better than it smells! In a project house, you’ll learn how to have fun, make friends, and overcome your fears.

“I think it’s just hugely important to have spaces where you can grow in the way that you want to,” Greenwood says. “I don’t think you need to know a massive amount about food justice to live in Eco House, and I don’t think you need to be an amazing artist to go live in Art House. And you certainly don’t need to be a chef to live in Food House. Everyone acknowledges that this is just another space of learning, and that you’ll get there. It might be a bit of a crash course. But you’ll come out of it with a lot more skills than you had before!”

Sheva Greenwood is a gender, women’s and sexuality studies major from New York City.


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