Parkway nurses ‘eggspress’ their interest in food pantry by creating cookbook fundraiser

By Ashlyn Gillespie, Parkway West High School

‘Pandemic Pound Cake’ is one of the many recipes submitted by Parkway staff for the “Parkway Pandemic Cookbook.”

Parkway Pandemic Cookbook Cover. Courtesy of Karen Malik

This district-wide project is a ‘legend in the baking,’ led by Green Trails Elementary nurse Karen Mailk back in March.

“With the increased rate of job loss, the pantry has been fulfilling more needs. I thought that we could incorporate the joy of the things we are cooking with the need for funding and donations with the pantry,” Malik said.

The Cookbook Crew, which includes Malik and seven other nurses around the district, created the cookbook containing recipes spanning from breakfasts to midnight snacks, all gathered from staff throughout the district. West Middle School nurse Caroline Gatti is also a member of said committee and she reached out to staff and ‘baked’ the book one recipe at a time.

“As a committee member, I reached out to staff in order to obtain their recipes, specifically principals. After retrieving recipes I would send them to be entered into the cookbook,” Gatti said. “[The fundraiser] means a lot to me due to the fact that I was a Parkway student. It feels good that now I am able to give back to a school district that has meant so much to me. I am super excited about this project and I hope all of the recipes provided bring families all over the Parkway School District comfort and joy.”

This cookbook’s undertaking began in March and is now nearing publication. The participating staff looks forward to being a ‘rye’ of hope in many people’s lives very soon. The 100-page paperback book holds roughly 250 recipes within its spiral binding. It should come back the second week of December, just in time for winter break.

“The Cookbook Crew sent letters to many staff members asking for recipes. We have recipes from the nurses, principals, assistant principals and secretaries, to name a few,” Malik said. “I decided to chair this project at the beginning of the school year when the nurses discussed projects we wanted to work on. The Parkway nurses have been very supportive of the idea and it has come together quickly.

Keith Marty, superintendent of the Parkway School District, added his favorite recipe to the book while conveying his gratitude for the nurses.

“I sent in mint brownies, my favorite dessert,” Marty said. “This is a wonderful gesture by our Parkway nurses in support of our food pantry. During the past five months, the food pantry, thanks to tremendous donations by businesses and individuals, raised over $125,000 and has provided over 500 families every two weeks with a few weeks of meals and necessary nutrition. We are very proud of our community and those, like the nurses, who support the Parkway Food Pantry.”

The nurses always have an annual project that they work on throughout the year to benefit the Parkway community. Nurse Lois Burch got involved as well, expressing her interest in the cookbook.

“I provided a recipe for sausage stuffed jalapenos and I picked the recipe because I have happy memories of making it with my sister and because it’s easy and delicious,” Burch said. “The fundraiser is a great idea; the food pantry is an important resource for our community.”

This story was originally published on Pathfinder on October 23, 2020.