Senior Squashes Loneliness with Home-Cooked Meals


It's Emily Leaman, GSB '20. (Courtesy of Emily Leaman for The Fordham Ram)

Colette Nolan, Executive Editor

Emily Leaman, GSB ’20, has a lot on her plate, literally. She, along with three other friends, started a project to help students at Fordham feel less lonely. The Provecho Project aims to bring students together for a comforting home-cooked meal in order to dispel some of the loneliness many students often feel while at college.

Leaman says she felt most loved and accepted when at the dinner table surrounded by her loved ones as part of her inspiration for getting involved with The Provecho Project. The project allows college students either to host and cook dinner or come as a guest. “It’s kind of like Airbnb but for a meal,” Leaman said. Leaman was able to get The Provecho Project up and running with the help of the social innovation collaboratory, the Fordham foundry and her co-founders, Joe Zoyhofski, GSB ’21, Alex TenBarge, GSB ’21, and Liam Scott, FCRH ’21.

Leaman and her co-founders all experienced a deep-rooted loneliness and disconnection from their community while at Fordham. Some research showed them that 46% of Americans say they feel lonely. “That statistic is really startling to me, especially living in the most populated city in the world,” Leaman said. She cites this as one of the main reasons she became involved with The Provecho Project. Alongside that, Leaman believes that a cook’s identity is infused in the things they create, making The Provecho Project an opportunity for cooks and guests to get to know each other on a different, more personal level.

Leaman also cites the collegiate “takeout culture” as another major reason for her involvement with The Provecho Project. Many college students order takeout as a quick and inexpensive means of feeding themselves. Leaman believes this can actually add to a student’s loneliness. “The takeout culture …produces a massive amount of waste and really separates us from where our food comes from,” she said. She believes knowing who made your food is just as important as knowing what’s in it. “I think it’s really important and grounding to know who made your food,” she stated. 

What began as a way for Leaman and her co-founders to quash the loneliness they felt upon coming to college has grown into a fully realized vision. The Provecho Project’s mission statement is contained almost entirely within the name. “‘Buen provecho’ is a Spanish term that’s often said like ‘bon appetit.’ It means respect for the person who made the food, celebrating the food that’s made and eating it together,” Leaman said. 

While the Provecho Project was born and raised at Fordham, Leaman and her co-founders are looking to expand to New York University and other New York City colleges. “I really believe eating meals together and sharing home-cooked meals together is really special,” Leaman stated. 

The Provecho Project is on Instagram as @provechoproject. Perhaps not everyone has culinary skills, but Emily Leaman believes that everyone can benefit from the community created by enjoying a meal together.