Family’s passion for cooking together inspires gift for nutrition education
For Brian McCarty, spending time with his children in the kitchen has always been a treasured tradition. With a focus on mastering the basics, McCarty hoped to model for his children the capacity to transform simple ingredients into delicious yet nutritious meals. His goal: to teach his children that these two concepts—delicious food and high nutritional value—should not be mutually exclusive.
An orthopedic surgeon by trade, McCarty happily swapped out the operating table and scalpel for a wooden cutting board and chef’s knife at home. “Having that experience with the kids, teaching them their way around the kitchen was so much fun, and there was so much to learn from it. I think of it as science…that you can eat!”
A commitment to prepare meals together transformed a seemingly mundane chore into cherished family memories.
The first dish McCarty chose for the family to tackle was admittedly simple: toast. “It was basic, but I wanted them to realize how easy it was to make something for themselves.” McCarty then moved on to other elemental dishes. “It is amazing how delicious and complex you can make them,” McCarty shared, “…if you know what you’re doing.”
For Brian’s youngest, 17-year-old Megan McCarty, time spent in the kitchen helped strengthen their father-daughter bond. “One of my first memories of cooking with dad was making scrambled eggs. We did it every day for weeks, cooking them super slowly and perfecting our skills, making us comfortable with the process of it all. It was fun, but more importantly, it helped us bond.”
As a trained dancer, Megan also recognized the importance food has on her art. “I’m a dancer, and proper nutrition is extremely valuable for us. Food is fuel for our bodies, and I find the science of it very fascinating.”
However, during all that time spent in their kitchen, toasting bread and crafting culinary habits, it was never lost on McCarty that his family’s experience may not be a reality for other families across the city. “We’re talking about our neighbors who just simply don’t have the resources to access healthy, nutritious food.”
As a student at Marquette High School, McCarty learned as a young man to recognize and appreciate his blessings. The education he received carried with him through college at UW-Madison, medical training and into his adult and family life. Steeped in a desire for justice through service and philanthropy, this educational mission instilled the values by which McCarty leads his life.
“I have committed myself to ‘spending’ money by investing in my community. I donate often but only to charities that I know will utilize these resources responsibly and efficiently—qualities Hunger Task Force has demonstrated at the very highest level.”
McCarty’s initial introduction to Hunger Task Force was through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “My fund advisor arranged a tour of The Farm and explained their mission and helped me to understand their needs. Through my fund at GMF I intend to improve our community. I hope others will embrace the opportunity to ‘be the change’ rather than feel helpless about it.”
Currently preparing for her Senior year at Brookfield Academy, Megan, inspired by years of meal preparation with her family, has also taken an interest in nutrition education and the Hunger Task Force Farm. At The Farm, Megan works as an intern with the Community Dietitian and Nutrition Educator to assist school groups with gaining hands-on experience working in the garden and learning in the demonstration kitchen.
“At The Farm, I hope I’m able to set a good example to students coming through, making the selection and preparation of food less daunting for them.”
While Megan works to be an example for students coming through the nutrition education program, McCarty commits to being an example for donors with the capacity to make an amazing impact for the work Hunger Task Force is committed to. A family that once focused on transforming bread into toast is now working to transform a dream into a reality.
”Regardless of where you stand, on a socio-economic status, everyone deserves healthy and delicious food. Food is a staple for life and allows people to participate in society.”
With a gift of $500,000, the Brian A. McCarty Family Fund, through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, has chosen to support the development of the Nutrition Education Kitchen. “The Greater Milwaukee Foundation allows donors to use their funds to ‘be the change’ they would like to see in their community. Working through GMF provides resources and opportunities for donors to identify worthy areas of philanthropy that meet their own gift-giving goals.”
With a clarity and maturity beyond her years, Megan was able to reflect on her family’s amazing gift. “As a family that does a lot of cooking, the Nutrition Education Kitchen was an ideal area to support. We hope to inspire others and encourage them to give back.”
The Nutrition Education Kitchen at Hunger Task Force’s new headquarters will provide an opportunity for other families to experience the joy the McCarty’s feel when cooking together. For Brian McCarty, spending time with his children in the kitchen has always been a treasured tradition. Now, as a result of his leadership, spending time in the kitchen will be a newfound adventure for countless families across Milwaukee.
“As a family we’ve been discussing these priorities for a long time, and we’ve been acting on them for a long time,” said McCarty. “All of us are members of the same community and I hope we can all work together to support that community. I’m hoping others will join me in choosing to be the change.”
Others are invited and encouraged to support Hunger Task Force’s capital campaign at www.HungerTaskForce.org/newHQ. This website also includes information about the project, donor recognition opportunities, project timelines and the current $1.9M fundraising goal.
Hunger Task Force is Milwaukee’s Free & Local food bank and Wisconsin’s anti-hunger leader. The organization provides healthy and nutritious food to hungry children, families and seniors in the community absolutely free of charge. Hunger Task Force was founded in 1974 by a local advocacy group who then formed Milwaukee’s first food bank. Today, Hunger Task Force is 100% supported by the community and provides a safety net of emergency food with dignity to a network of 75 food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Through legislative analysis, education and community organizing, Hunger Task Force continues to advocate for anti-hunger policy at the local, state and federal level. For more information, visit HungerTaskForce.org.