UK students serve healthy, balanced meals to community through Meals on Wings

At the University of Kentucky Campus Kitchen, a remarkable initiative — Meals on Wings — is taking flight, bringing nourishment and community spirit to those who need it most. Meals on Wings is not just about food, it’s about bridging gaps and fostering a sense of unity within the community.

Part of the UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition (DHN), Meals on Wings embodies the college’s dedication to reducing food waste and addressing food and nutrition disparities.

Launched by the University of North Florida (UNF) Center for Nutrition and Food Security, the Meals on Wings program was designed to recover food normally discarded from area hospitals and then repackaged into healthy, balanced meals for delivery to older adults experiencing challenges properly nourishing themselves.

This summer, Meals on Wings was introduced at UK, thanks to a two-year seed grant funding support from UNF in collaboration with Humana Inc.

Kendra OoNorasak, DHN’s director of community outreach and the grant’s principal investigator, oversees the student volunteers and leaders from various majors that brought this program to fruition. OoNorasak believes that the students are filling a much-needed gap, especially for seniors in Kentucky.

“In Kentucky, the food insecurity rate for older adults is ranked one of the highest in the nation,” said OoNorasak. “This means that the policies, systems and structures that we have in place cannot reach those populations. Meals on Wings helps fill this gap, while teaching our students the importance of community engagement.”

Meals on Wings is a three-part process: recovering, transporting and storing the food, planning and preparing age-friendly, nutritionally balanced meals safely in the Campus Kitchen and then hand-delivering meals to older adults. 

Katherine Johnson

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