Cummins, CRH prepare to open NexusPark teaching kitchen

Mike Wolanin | The Republic An exterior view the area where the teaching kitchen is located at NexusPark in Columbus, Ind., Monday, March 18, 2024. Cummins and the Columbus Regional Health Foundation donated the money to make the kitchen operational.

Columbus Parks and Recreation officials announced naming donors and gave some additional details on the new teaching kitchen in NexusPark.

Cummins Inc. and Columbus Regional Health Foundation/Healthy Communities are supporting the kitchen focused on “community health and wellness,” Associate Director of Recreation Nikki Murphy said.

Cummins contributed $250,000 up-front and the CRH Foundation is contributing $300,000 over three years. Funding from both went towards supplies, equipment, staffing and programming operations.

Officials said the hope is that the kitchen will provide assistance to underserved communities, and the community at large, as a place to learn how to find healthy foods and prepare healthy meals. The kitchen will be contract-based, used by those who are putting on or involved in specific programming, but there is a prep kitchen adjacent to it that will be open to the community.

Classes will be 12 to 15 people, about three per station, equipped with a Bunsen burner stove, small appliances and utensils so attendees can replicate what the teacher behind the counter is doing. The space has the technological capability for live streaming as well.

Construction of the kitchen itself came to be after NexusPark received $6 million through a Regional Economic Accelerating and Development Initiative (READI) grant. It features a gas stove, two double oven-microwaves, and a variety of catering-sized refrigerators and freezers that could be used for “larger scale distribution of food,” Murphy said.

Healthy Communities will likely be the primary user of the area and is collaborating with Purdue Extension for the inaugural program, which will provide nutrition educators to teach the classes.

The initial program is for VIMCare patients who will receive boxes of food to pair with what they will learn in the class, CRH’s Julie Knight said.

The plan is for the teaching kitchen to open in May, Murphy said.