Beginning in January, a USD student used her personal cultural knowledge to bring diverse eating options to the Vermillion community once a week.
Junior exercise science major Ashley Charlie started Eats with Ashley when she noticed that there was a lack of cultural foods in Vermillion.
When Charlie came to USD, she made connections within the Center for Diversity and Community. Charlie was a part of the executive board and would cook dishes for certain events — this also expanded to cooking for her friends.
“I met wonderful people where we hosted various cultural events and one so happened to be for African Student Association and I’m African,” Charlie said. “So going to these events we understood the importance of our cultural dishes because that’s what really makes us African and seeing how people enjoyed it and loved it.”
Orders can be placed from Monday to Wednesday weekly. Charlie said she goes shopping Wednesday night to get all the ingredients. She then sanitizes her workspace and prepares any part of the meal she can — like dicing peppers — and puts it in the fridge for Thursday morning.
“It’s teaching me things like I can’t cook every single thing this world has to offer but it’s definitely testing my skills,” Charlie said.
USD has students from many different backgrounds, and Charlie said she understands that students sometimes just want to go out and buy a meal to bring home instead of having to cook it themselves.
“Having to come from other places like states or countries and come here and kind of have to adapt to the foods that are at Walmart or around town, sometimes it may not be as fulfilling as a mother’s cooking, so I felt like it was a need that wasn’t really spoken about,” Charlie said.
Charlie said she creates these dishes to make people happy because it gives her a sense of purpose at USD and in Vermillion and makes her feel like she’s doing something good.
“I’ve never really thought about it so much for myself, but I feel like all in all like it’s really just making people happy and just putting smiles on their faces,” Charlie said.
Eats with Ashley can be found on Instagram @eats.withashley and customers can place their order through the link in the bio. Full platters are $12 each. https://www.instagram.com/eats.withashley/