American Transmission Co. Partners With Kitchen Program
American Transmission Co. signed on as a corporate partner of the Meadowridge Library kitchen program, committing a $5,000 gift to Madison Public Library Foundation that will be used to help a neighborhood experiencing homelessness, unemployment and food insecurity.
The partnership also has a volunteer component: ATC employees will have the opportunity to prepare sack lunches for school-age children, run a food drive at its offices to stock the kitchen’s cupboards, and help out at the kitchen’s community potluck suppers.
At least 30 children spend their free time each day in the library, and they often don’t return home for meals, said Meadowridge Supervising Librarian Alice Oakey. “In the summer, many kids are here from the moment the doors open in the morning until the lights are turned out in the evening,” she said.
For many of the students who spend a substantial amount of time at Meadowridge, a significant barrier to academic success is an adequate supply of healthy food. After eating sack lunches provided by the library over spring break, children were noticeably more focused on reading, homework, and playing chess or board games.
The library also recognized that by offering food, it was able to build relationships with the kids, resulting in more reading in the library and better overall behavior.
“We support the Meadowridge kitchen program because it promotes community involvement, and creates a safe and fun environment for kids,” said Sarah Justus, External Affairs Manager at American Transmission Co. “We think it is important to connect with and support the communities we serve.”
In addition to the sack lunch program, which runs at various times of the year and has support from local churches, the kitchen serves meals to students several times a week through Al’s Supper Club. Albert Watson shops for the food, prepares and teaches the kids how to cook simple, healthy meals together. The children then eat together in a communal setting, with Watson leading discussions about life choices and his experience growing up as an African-American male in the United States. (He works in the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center.)
The library also works with neighborhood organizations to host community suppers. Food is prepared by the organizing committee, or the library hires a neighborhood cook. The supper discussions include such topics as neighborhood gardens, voting and police safety advice. Sometimes, City Council representatives for the neighborhood attend.