Authored by Caitlyn Adams, Salt Lake County Youth Services Milestone Coordinator and Dwight Rasmussen, Independent Aging Program Manager
In partnership with Utah State Extension Services, Salt Lake County Jail Horticulture program and Green Urban Lunch BOX, Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services started the Meals Plus program in 2013, which was designed to provide fresh produce to homebound elderly receiving Meals on Wheels. The following year the program expanded to the Aging and Adult Services Active Aging senior centers. Yet another expansion in 2016 is with the Salt Lake County Youth Services Milestone Program. This collaboration began the first week of July. Utah State University transported fresh vegetables to our Milestone house manager and they were distributing our participants.
The mission of the Milestone Program is to provide services for young adults 18-21 who are homeless. Our goals are to provide them with safe housing; to stabilize employment, build skills, to connect them with ongoing resources and support within the community; to help them become self-sufficient so that they can start their lives and break the cycle of homelessness and dependency. This collaboration supports our mission.
This has been an exciting collaboration for the staff and participants of the Milestone Program. In the past two weeks our young adults have prepared meals utilizing the fresh produce that was delivered. It is exciting to see our young adults incorporate fresh vegetable into their meals. The West Valley and Sandy homes both participated in a salad bar in the recent weeks, made entirely from the vegetables given to us. The participants were shocked and excited at the fact that the lettuce still had a root ball of dirt on them, and commented how cool it was that the vegetables were literally just picked. There were many remarks of how fresh the vegetables tasted as well as how quickly they could go bad if not properly stored. Milestone staff and participants discussed proper cleaning and storing technique to ensure the vegetables last as long as possible. Milestone staff and participants also brainstormed several recipes to make with the fresh produce. One Milestone participant became enthusiastic at the fact that she could make a “healthy” salad all week for lunch. Milestone staff and participants will continue to get creative and utilize the vegetables donated weekly for the rest of the harvest season.
For more information about Salt Lake County Youth Services and the Milestone Program please call 385-468-4500.