February 2022 Newsletter

Ketchup with Cultivate


Cultivate wins $1 Million Grant from St. Joseph County Council

As you may have heard, the St. Joseph County Council awarded us with $1 Million in American Rescue Plan funds. These dollars will go toward our campaign to build a community freezer. The freezer will allow for the expansion of Cultivate Cares Food Network (CCFN), a food pantry support system that provides much-needed perishable food items to pantries and meal centers in the three-county area at no cost to them.

MEAT Hunger Spark Club Kicks Off at Cultivate

In coordination with Purdue University Extension and the 4-H Youth Development, Cultivate kicked off its first Spark Club meeting in January. Area high school students will learn skills in philanthropy and fundraising, business, leadership and team building. They will put these skills to use as they raise money to purchase 4-H livestock that is integral to Cultivate’s inventory.

Cultivate Cares Food Network Launches New Software

CCFN launched new software for our food pantry partners. It functions like Amazon in that our pantries can see stock, order and setup pick-up or delivery times right from their computers or phones! Over 50 pantries are testing functionality now and everyone should be up and running in the next few weeks. A special thanks to Bob Herbert who has worked tirelessly and patiently in this effort.

Volunteer Spotlight

Niles Public Schools- SOAR Program (Student Opportunities for Adult Responsibility)

For two years now, Cultivate has been blessed with volunteers from the Niles Public Schools.  The SOAR program (Student Opportunities for Adult Responsibility) is in its 17th year, aiding students in transition from school to life. The program boasts 57 students, aged 14-26. Students work at six to eight different locations during the week including a bowling alley, an assisted living facility, and here at Cultivate! Each Monday and Friday morning, the dedicated students help pack meals into backpacks. Teachers Shannon Quinn and Kelly Barton focus on instilling job skills such as being on time, attendance, time management, interactions with supervisors, teamwork, and following job related procedures. Throughout the morning, you’ll hear the teachers providing lessons as they work to help peers in need. One of their favorite lessons is “fix it and move on”. One of the SOAR students, Valeree Ncube, arrives each Monday with a smile on her face. Her friendly attitude is infectious. When asked about the program, she had this to say; “I want to show that I care about this place. I am just glad to be here. There is no way to explain what it means to me. I want to be a cashier at JC Penny when I graduate. Being here helps me grow and understand how things are organized. I can show others how to do things and manage my time.” Volunteering their time, the group states that they are “paid in compliments”. This being the case, on behalf of Cultivate and all those that we serve, we can’t express enough our thanks, appreciation, and admiration for this group of students. Being paid in compliments makes you extremely rich!

All the Right Ingredients

Chef Randy Z’s Chicken Wings with Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce
  • 16 chicken wings
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces of sundried tomatoes – half julienned and half finely diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon sun dried tomato pesto
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves separated
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of fresh oregano, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, diced


Baby spinach, balsamic vinegar and finely grated parmesan


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Season wings with salt and pepper to taste

In an oven proof skillet or large Dutch oven over medium high heat melt 3 tablespoons butter add the wings and sear both sides until golden brown; set aside.

In the same pan add remaining tablespoon of butter, garlic, red pepper flakes and capers, cook stirring for 2 minutes. Turn heat up to high and add all of the ingredients, with the exception of garnish.

Bring to a boil stirring until thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet toss to coat and place in the oven uncovered until internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165 degrees, approx. 20-25 minutes. (depending on size of wings)

When chicken is complete place spinach on a plate and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, place wings on spinach and top with finely grated parmesan cheese.

For You Grillers Out There: All of this can be done grill top in a roasting pan or disposable foil pan.

Papa Vino’s Give Back Week

  • Help support us when you order take-out or plan to dine at Papa Vino’s from March 7th-March 10th. In addition to being one of our Cultivate Truck Sponsors, Papa Vino’s has graciously offered a portion of their proceeds to us!
  • Order family-style (each order feeds 4-5 people) using this link
  • Present the voucher (printed or on your phone) when you dine-in
  • Mention the voucher when your order on the phone to order take out from the regular menu

Get Involved

Here are several ways that you can get involved with Cultivate!

  • Share this newsletter with a friend or encourage someone to sign-up here for Cultivate updates!
  • Be an Influencer for Cultivate! Help us get the word out by following us, commenting, liking, or sharing some of our FacebookInstagramLinkedIn or Twitter updates!
  • Become a Backpack Sponsor. Click the link below to support a child in need today!