Teach healthy living skills to adults with autism

 
$19,540
$10,460
Raised
Remaining
Mitch carries supplies to the garden plot
Mitch carries supplies to the garden plot

Our last frost date behind us (and two more bonus frost warnings last week!) means that we finally get to plant our seedlings in the gardens. We’ve been nurturing them in our greenhouse waiting for the warm weather and now it’s time to really get our hands dirty. This week we’re excited to take our tiny plants out into the sun and give them a chance to really grow. Mitch is happy that the weather is nice and hopes that everything can be planted before the rain in a few days.  

Growing our own vegetables really helps to connect to the food we eat. However, this requires your help. Every year we need some new gardening supplies and we need to replace broken equipment. With your donation we can make sure that our gardening program continues to succeed for another growing season. 

Amir mows down the overgrown garden plot
Amir mows down the overgrown garden plot
Paul rakes up grass and weed clippings
Paul rakes up grass and weed clippings
Matthew loves using the tiller!
Matthew loves using the tiller!

What’s new at CSS?

The LunchBox!

As part of our teaching healthy living skills, we are now offering healthy alternatives for lunchtime purchases. Every weekday, individuals spend the morning preparing foods, learning about why food choices are healthy. They are also building upon their cooking skills and mastering new techniques.

The meals are prepackaged and menus will vary daily and will be a combination of soup, salad and sandwiches. Even the honey mustard is made from scratch and it’s even more fun to learn how to make homemade tomato soup than it is to eat it!

The LunchBox opened for business on Monday, January 26th and everyone is excited to see this new endeavor take off!

Stay tuned for more information as we see this new project develop. 

Thanks to support from donors like you, we’ve been able to expand our Salad Class since we first wrote about it in January. With new classes we’ve been able to reach out to more individuals and have seen some remarkable changes in eating habits both in and out of the classrooms! Yesterday, for the first time, one participant happily made himself a salad AND ate it! Six months ago he wouldn’t even stay in the kitchen for the duration of the class and now we're not only participating, but enjoying it too!

In addition to the number of classes, we’ve been able to add even more salad choices and have created some one on one classes for those that need it the individualized attention. We’ve been able to buy more specialized tools for those that have difficulty with the dexterity needed to chop their own vegetables. And most importantly, we’ve been able to give everyone the time and encouragement they need.

We will continue our program and reach out as we can afford to do so. Donations make this initiative possible. Thank you so much for helping us change lifestyles one carrot at a time! 

grating the zucchini
grating the zucchini

This time of year gardens tend to produce an overabundance of one vegetable or another, and in this region we start to see more zucchini than most people usually know what to do with. But in our creative kitchen Chef Adam knows that zucchini is simply a great opportunity to introduce more healthy foods into our diet!

Narrow eating habits are reported in over seventy percent of those on the autism spectrum. And while it’s okay to simply not like some foods (most of us have foods we don’t like!) we do want to encourage healthy eating choices. Which brings us to this week’s recipe – Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes!

 It may sound strange at first, but adding zucchini to our sweet baked goods keeps them delectably moist. By adding vegetables in friendly vehicles like chocolate cupcakes, we build familiarity and positive associations. Individuals start to think of zucchini as something fun and not something scary!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar or low calorie sweetener
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup olive oil or apple puree
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease & flour a muffin tin
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Break up any lumps and mix until evenly combined.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl combine the oil, water, zucchini and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients, stirring until no traces of flour remain.
  4. Pour into prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. This recipe makes about 24 muffins.
Mixing the batter
Mixing the batter
Ready for the oven!
Ready for the oven!
Untilled earth waiting to be cultivated.
Untilled earth waiting to be cultivated.

We had a long winter this year in Maryland. Schools were closed, roads were terrible, schedules were askew, and even worse, now we are now a month behind in our planting season!

Here at Community Support Services we maintain five community garden plots and each plot takes a lot of work to get ready for planting.  This year we are working with new plots and have to start our ground cultivation from the beginning. The dirt was hard but everyone persevered because we needed to start getting our seedlings in the ground!

First the ground was tilled. A tiller had to be rented every time which was one more cost in our budget.  Then we laid a mix of organic soil and fertilizer on the tilled earth before covering it with a weed block fabric. And then it was finally time to plant!

Our first crops making it to the gardens are Lacinato kale, collards, and onions. But we have a lot more waiting in our greenhouse to be planted! This weekend we began planting in our home gardens. It’s going to be a vegetable rich summer for everyone!

Every dollar contributed to our project makes a difference. Several of our garden tools are old and starting to break but we are still putting our broken trowels to good use.  This is the time of year to help us expand our backyard garden program. We hope to increase the number of raised beds so that more individuals with autism have the opportunity to grow their own vegetables. With your help we’ll be able to grow more than ever before!

A garden plot finally ready for planting!
A garden plot finally ready for planting!
Everyone enjoys a sunny morning in the garden.
Everyone enjoys a sunny morning in the garden.
Planting kale!
Planting kale!
A broken trowel still digs!
A broken trowel still digs!
Shoveling mulch to lay bed and path foundations.
Shoveling mulch to lay bed and path foundations.

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Organization

Project Leader

Ashley Chatneuff

Communications Coordinator
Gaithersburg, MD United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Teach healthy living skills to adults with autism