ANN ARBOR, Mich. – For a group of college kids in Ann Arbor, Fridays often means getting into the kitchen.
The University of Michigan students are a part of Project Flavor, and they look forward to cooking for a cause.
Project Flavor is a student organization on the campus of the University of Michigan. The students volunteers make meals for families who are in need.
"We are a community service cooking organization," said Ben Meyers. " We really just love to cook and do it for a good cause."
Meyers is a member of Project Flavor's executive board. He helps organize all of Project Flavor's cooking events, as well as plan their menu.
Each week the members of Project Flavor get together and cook. Their biggest cook-out is their monthly visit to The Ronald McDonald House, where they cook for families who have children living at the C.S Motts Children's Hospital.
"I think it is therapeutic, after a long week , I had a test yesterday and now I get to come here," said Meyers.
"We have amazing relationships with groups like Project Flavor who have been coming in for years during the school year every year," said Kim Kelly, the executive director of the Ronald McDonald House in Ann Arbor. "They are very confident when they walk in, they have their spices and their food and everything ready to go. They will come in and prepare the meal and the family in most cases will interact with Project Flavor or with any of the dinner groups, but it is just an amazing opportunity to spend time in the house and see what is happening."
Currently there are 29 families that are living at the Ann Arbor Ronald McDonald House, which translates into a lot of cooking.
"We plan to cook for up to 40 people," said Meyers.
When volunteer organizations like Project Flavor come in, it takes a big burden off the non-profits they cook for.
"The big thing that people don't know is that we are not fully funded and none of the families are ever asked to pay to stay with us," said Kelly.
Emily Deedler knows first hand how important it is to have an extra hand when your child is sick. Her son Elliot was in the intensive care unit for a month when he was just a year old.
"Well, I think what a lot of people don't realize is when your child is critically ill, you don't want to be more then 10 steps away," said Deedler.
"That is the goal I think, to make sure you are making a difference and that you are trying to make something easier for someone who is going through an obstacle," said Meyers.
Project Flavor has been dedicated to cooking for a cause for over a decade. The group is completely student run and they are funded by the University of Michigan's student government.
"The families are pretty tired after a long day. I think it is nice for them to relax and know that there is a meal that is going to be here," said Meyers.
The students at Project Flavor may not be professional chefs, but they are serious about their food.
On the menu for this cookout was roasted chicken, with macaroni and cheese, mashed sweet and red potatoes, and for desert pumpkin and chocolate chip bread.
"It always smells good in the office when they start cooking," said Kelly.
"One of the highest forms of charities is giving to someone who you don't know and they don't know who you are," said Meyers.
"Food is such a family thing, food is such a feel good thing," said Meyers. "If I'm trying to treat myself after a bad day, the first thing I am going to look for is a good meal, that is how I think Project Flavor is a Force 4 Good."
If you are looking to be a Force 4 Good, the Ronald McDonald House needs your help. Click here for more information.