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Student-Run Project Aims To Fight Food Insecurity While Feeding Community

What started off as a way for one Penn State student to feed his friends has quickly blossomed into a project to fight food insecurity around the world.

Nick Cradler is a senior economics major from Wilmington, Delaware. Usually, in the summer, Cradler works in restaurants at the beach, and that passion for cooking helped spark the idea to make meals and sell them while he’s at school.

“I just wanted to do something to help my friends and make them food over the week just because I enjoyed doing it,” Cradler said.

Once Cradler started making meals for his friends, the number of orders he received began to grow.

“The first week I sold 12 meals, then 24 meals the next week, then 33 the next,” Cradler said. “It started as just my friends ordering food and then became random people from freshmen to people that live in town.”

After a couple of weeks, Cradler’s profit margins were more than he originally thought they would be. So, instead of keeping the profits, he had the desire to donate the money for a good cause. That’s when One-for-One Cooking was born.

One-for-One Cooking is a weekly food service started by Cradler that donates all proceeds to Share The Meal, a United Nations program dedicated to fighting global food insecurity.

“I called it One-for-One because I was going to donate one meal for every meal that I sold,” Cradler said.

Cradler said his generous nature comes from lessons he learned from his grandfather, who would work in soup kitchens alongside Cradler when he was in high school. Cradler’s grandfather grew up in New York City during the Great Depression and became successful. Despite his fortune, his grandfather continues to look out for those who are less fortunate.

“He’s in his 80s now and still wakes up every other week and serves folks in kitchens around Wilmington,” Cradler said. “It makes me feel good, and since I can’t be with him while I’m at school, I do this as a way of giving back.”

The meals Cradler cooked when he started were more basic things like tacos and sandwiches. He was limited because of the lack of supplies he had available to him. But as One-for-One continued to grow, people started to help Cradler out to expand the project.

“After other articles came out, parents and other people started to donate money so I could buy better stuff,” Cradler said. “I was able to buy new knives, a bigger cutting board, and to-go boxes.”

With more supplies at his disposal, Cradler began to cook more complicated meals like pasta dishes and whatever else he could come up with. The brainstorming process for what meal he’s going to make that week usually starts on the weekend.

“People ask me while I’m out what I’m going to make that week, and I ask what they want,” Cradler said. “If they come up with a good idea, that’s usually what I’ll make.”

After deciding what he’ll make that week, Cradler makes an ad that he posts to One-for-One’s Instagram page. Then, from Sunday to Tuesday night, Cradler accepts orders and payments through Venmo. On Wednesday, he goes to the store, buys what he needs, and cooks the meals for distribution.

“Depending on what it is, I may spend nine hours in the kitchen or only two hours,” Cradler said.

So far this spring, Cradler has donated approximately 575 meals to Share The Meal. With graduation coming up in a couple of weeks and a job lined up after college, Cradler is prepared to keep One-for-One going, but perhaps in a different capacity.

Still, through Cradler’s generosity, he has provided home-cooked meals for the State College community while making the world just a bit of a better place.

“Remember how fortunate you are and don’t forget about the people that aren’t,” Cradler said.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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