ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — St. Bonaventure University’s Warming House received a $2,500 grant from the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation to develop a series of cooking and nutrition classes.

Located at 164 N. Union St. in Olean, the Warming House is the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the nation. The classes will be held once a month from September through May.

“Our board of directors knows our community has serious issues with food security and access to healthy food, especially in the disadvantaged populations,” Kirk Windus, communication and fund development coordinator for CRCF, said. “We’ve been dedicated to making grants that help fight back against those circumstances, and this program fits that bill and our foundation’s mission of ‘Growing Good.’

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“The fact that the Warming House is not only providing those in need with meals they may not have otherwise, but also with education to make nutritious meals is something we think can make a serious impact in the community,” he added.

One board member, Dr. Naheed Hilal, felt the initiative was so important that she and her husband, Dr. Ahmad Hilal, donated $500 of their own money to the Warming House to make the total Community Fund grant $2,500.

“That’s the kind of board we have,” Windus said. “When our board members see a need, they do everything they can to make a difference.”

The grant will also allow the Warming House to send food home with the class participants to make meals of their own.

“Making a meal together allows families a chance to bond, build stronger ties and create lasting impressions on one another,” said junior Haley Sousa, a strategic communication major from San Jose, California, who teaches the classes.

The Franciscan Center for Social Concern is the parent organization of the Warming House.

“The Warming House prides itself on providing our volunteers and our guests with nourishment for body, mind and soul d this cooking class initiative would further reinforce that,” Alice Miller Nation, director of the FCSC at St. Bonaventure, said. “This will address both hunger and education needs in our community.”

The Warming House serves nutritious meals five days a week with the help of student and community volunteers, and it partners with the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany’s Canticle Farm to provide fresh produce.

“The Warming House has had several education initiatives in the past and our guests respond well to the opportunity to build skills and learn about new things,” Miller Nation said. “Empowering people to seek and create healthy nourishment options for themselves and their families is essential to our value of individual worth.”

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