Introducing: Community Cooks!
By Kylie Jacobsen
Our Programs Team is excited to announce the official pilot of our new program: Community Cooks. Second Harvest hopes to partner with community members across our 16 counties through the program to support culturally meaningful cooking classes, community events, and demonstrations. It provides an opportunity for folx – particularly those with historically marginalized identities – with a passion for food and cooking, unique skills, and dreams to use their experiences to improve their community.
Community Cooks was inspired by a similar Lussier Community Education Center program and conversations with our Youth & Families program partners. Program staff identifies folx in their communities interested in positive exposure in the culinary sphere and using their passion for cooking to support families facing hunger. These cooks are paid a reasonable fee to show others how to cook through family-style dinners for program participants. When the meal is done, the participants have an increased interest in learning how to cook and understand the importance of sharing meals; and the cook has received the exposure they were looking for.
The program is a direct result of our commitment to centering community voice in the program solutions we offer and our desire to address the root causes of hunger.
Thanks to a collaborative grant proposal with Horizon High School, a few folx from our Programs Team had the opportunity to pilot a version of the program on a much smaller scale this past year. It provided the chance to gather feedback and make adjustments as the pilot unfolded. Midway through the pilot, they had the opportunity to meet Daijah Birchette, who dreams of starting Madison’s first Black woman-owned vegan restaurant. She has since become Second Harvest’s first official community cook and has cooked for several of our youth programs in recent months.
The Programs Team is currently building a database of community cooks to share with our partners and promoting the program to program staff and community members. If you’re a current youth program partner interested in Community Cooks, or a community member wanting to share your passion for cooking, please reach out to Brian Squire, Youth & Family Initiatives Manager.