Music Professor Feeds Students

Dr. Michelle Folta prepares meals for her students once a week to help them through this unusual time.


Dr. Michelle Folta preps food for students in need. Photo courtesy of Dr. Folta.

   Dr. Michelle Folta has been a Music Education professor since 2015. At the end of every semester, she hosts a party where she cooks food for her current and previous students. Although this event was cancelled this semester, she found another way to provide her students with home cooked meals.

   One evening, Dr. Folta noticed a student comment on Facebook, sharing that they missed Mexican food, and she responded, “I’m making Mexican food tonight. What are you craving?” 

   She set aside part of the meal she was making that night, packaged it, and left it on her front porch for that student to pick up.

   After that, she got in contact with some alumni she knew were still in town and asked if there were any other students who had not gone home. Shortly afterward she made another meal to share. That time the meal was shared with around six students and alumni.

   Because there was such a positive response, she decided to cook meals for students one evening each week. “It’s become a fun thing for me to think about what I’m going to cook that’s going to make something ‘en mass’ that everyone will like.”

   Dr. Folta tries to provide a well-rounded meal, including a protein, a carb, and a vegetable. She also wears gloves while preparing these meals and plans to start wearing a mask as well. “We should all have the assumption that we’ve got[the virus].”

   After she prepares the meals, she places the containers in bags, writes each student’s name on them, and includes an encouraging note. Every now and then, a student will return the tupperware with brownies or some other treat.

   While Dr. Folta enjoys providing these meals, she also stresses that she is still fulfilling her responsibility as an educator through this. “One of the things I’m always teaching my Ed students is that any kid that you teach wants to feel like they have decision making abilities and that they matter, and any opportunity that I can provide to model that behavior strengthens anything that they would do in the classroom.”

   Dr. Folta continues to cook for around six to ten students each week.

  Because students may be working off an unconventional budget, Dr. Folta advises students to buy staple food items in bulk and to avoid specialty items that may only get used once. She added that students may want to invest in frozen produce to prevent frequent grocery trips, and stores often post which proteins will be on sale that week.