Written by Caroline Boschetto, AmeriCorps Food Educator
Everyone knows that at Common Threads we love cooking with kids, whether it be in classrooms, housing units and detention facilities, after school clubs, or our summer camps. While we can’t connect with students to share food and knowledge in traditional ways right now, we’ve begun cooking somewhere we never have before: online in Common Threads’ virtual kitchen! With ingredients and cooking tools at the ready, students tune in weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays to follow along with Common Threads Food Educators in making a nutritious and delicious meal.
“At its core, these classes operate for the same reason as our in-person classes – to connect kids with new and interesting foods, and get them invested in fruits and vegetables,” Food Educator Hannah Allen-Young said.
So far, the young chefs have made bumblebee salad, vegan crepes, cauliflower tacos, mediterranean orzo salad, and other delicious recipes. This month, the classes are focusing on recipes students have requested, including even ice cream (amended to be a dairy-free and banana-based for a more nutritious alternative). In choosing their recipes, Common Threads’ Food Educators get creative, prioritizing the use of tools and ingredients that are affordable and accessible.
“We try to make sure that the ingredients are easy and inexpensive to find and that there isn’t any equipment required that would be a barrier for families,” Food Educator Indigo Larson said.
While we know online classes can’t replicate the connections created cooking together in person, these sessions have created opportunities for new shared experiences. Kids have the chance to connect with other kids from across the country during this time when they’re missing out on summer playdates. Whole families are getting involved in the classes too, learning and sharing the joys of cooking together.
“I have loved seeing siblings, parents, and pets enter in and out of the frame, getting excited about trying the new food, and even joining in on the lesson,” Hannah said. “I had one parent tell me that the classes were the highlight of their household’s week because everyone always loved trying the new food.”
As anyone engaging in online classes or meetings during this time knows, interacting through a screen requires some adjusting. Common Threads Educators, however, have tried to build on familiar links to the classroom cooking, such as catch phrases and knife techniques like “claw and saw”, that students know and love.
We’re looking forward to the day we can chant “bon appetit it’s time to eat!” together in person once again. For now, however, we’re happy to have the chance to connect, learn, and share food with kids in a safe way.
Hannah reflects: “Sharing food and cooking has always been a conduit for community building, which is something I think we need now more than ever.”
If your child is interested in joining in on the fun and learning to cook nutritious and delicious food through Common Threads’ pay-what-you-can virtual cooking classes, click here to sign up! Classes run til the end of July.