The Provecho Project Brings Home-Cooked Meals to College Students

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The Provecho Project Brings Home-Cooked Meals to College Students

The Provecho Project hosted their launch event in front of Bros Hill. They served different food from around the world.

The Provecho Project hosted their launch event in front of Bros Hill. They served different food from around the world.

Jennifer Hoang/ The Fordham Ram

The Provecho Project hosted their launch event in front of Bros Hill. They served different food from around the world.

Jennifer Hoang/ The Fordham Ram

Jennifer Hoang/ The Fordham Ram

The Provecho Project hosted their launch event in front of Bros Hill. They served different food from around the world.

Clay Walters, Assistant Business Director

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On Saturday, Oct. 5, roughly 150 students gathered to celebrate the launch of a Fordham-created startup known as The Provecho Project. The event included a diverse offering of free food made by Fordham students and music from well-known DJ artist FDVM.

The Provecho Project, according to the start up’s newly established website, aims to bring people together by sharing stories and home-cooked meals. Co-founders Joe Zoyhofski, GSB ’21, Liam Scott, FCRH ’21, Alex Tenbarge, GSB ’21, and Emily Leaman, GSB ’20, created The Provecho Project during their freshman year at Fordham.

“We aim to bring more appreciation to the food we eat, those we share it with, and the magical moments created when we open our homes and hearts to each other,” its website reads.

The company’s name was originally What’s Cooking, but the founders found out the name was already registered as a business in New York. The company kept the same logos and business model, but changed its name to The Provecho Project.

According to Zoyhofski, “buen provecho” is a Spanish phrase that does not directly translate to English but roughly means, “enjoy your meal.”

In Spanish and Latino culture, this phrase is usually exchanged between the people dining and the person who prepared the meal, out of respect for the tradition of sharing meals. This name captures the values they hope all people bring to the table, said Zoyhofski.

“It is used to acknowledge who is around you and respecting the people that made the food,” said Zoyhofski. “Food is interesting, they say we are what we eat, but it’s a lot more than that — it’s how we eat, it’s where we eat. I think the new name better captures our values.”

The launch party’s offerings consisted of home-cooked meals made from recipes inspired by cultures from around the world.

“We set up around ‘Bro’s Hill’ outside of Walsh gate with decorations and food on the sidewalk, and around 4:30 people came and sampled food from different parts of the world,” Zoyhofski said. “The food was cooked by Fordham students who shared how it was important to their culture.”

One attendee of the event, Muhammad Mazhar, GSB ’21, described the launch as a huge success.

“Seeing everyone enjoying cuisines from across the world and enjoying each other’s presence was truly an amazing thing to witness,” Mazhar said. “I enjoyed the incredible variety in dishes that everyone brought, ranging from kimchi salad to homemade hummus.”

According to Zoyhofski, his favorite part of the event was seeing everyone together sharing food and having a good time. He explained that all students are welcome to host and attend an event.

“If you want to host a provecho or meal, you would go on our website. You would say what you want to cook, how many people you want to have over, what your price per guest is,” he explained. “All these provechos are listed and you can view upcoming ones in your neighborhood, choose the ones you want to go.”

The idea came to Zoyhofski and his friends while they were eating Kraft Mac & Cheese and Pop-Tarts in their freshman dorm, experiencing homesickness and longing for a healthy home-cooked meal.

“It was so confusing to me at the moment because you can do just about anything in the world in New York City or college except have a home-cooked meal with your neighbors,” Zoyhofski said. “But it’s something so simple and so important and something that has always been a part of my life growing up. I just want to make it easier for college students to have a home-cooked meal while they are away at school.”

For Zoyhofski, The Provecho Project is all about bringing people together.

“When people host meals, you want to make sure they are safe with the people they are welcoming in, and also when you are going to a strangers home, you want to make sure you have a safe experience,” Zoyhofski said.

To ensure the safety of everyone attending a provecho, the new website requires each host to go through a brief application process. According to Zoyhofski, it does not take long but does require basic food and kitchen safety knowledge.

“For people coming into homes, we are limiting it to just the college community, so register with a school email address or some proof of identity that you are a college student,” he said. “[It] really does take a special kind of person to open their homes to the community and to put that kind of time, that’s why are so appreciative of the hosts that do this.”

One of these hosts include Esther Ruiz, FCRH ’21, who described it as one of the best memories from the year.

“There’s something so special about sharing a meal, especially one into which you put your time and care,” Ruiz said. “The smiles, laughs and wonderful conversations make the craziness of inviting so many people and having to whip up a meal after hours of classes so worth it.”

Zoyhofski said the advice he would give to Fordham students interested in creating their own start-up is to “just start.”

Zoyhofski said that although it can, at times, be difficult to work on a start-up, the team that started Provecho always finds a way to keep the energy optimistic.

“It’s a life lesson,” Zoyhofski said. “When you are going through a tough situation, hopefully have good people around you to lean on.”

Those interested in the The Provecho Project, can go to its website at provechoproject.com or follow @provechoproject on Instagram.