Several months ago I received an email from a girlfriend telling me about a non-profit that was looking for volunteer chefs to teach six week classes on healthy cooking and nutrition, so naturally I jumped at the chance. It is not that I have all the free time in the world while building RealFoodies aside from other duties related to impending nuptials, but I have ALWAYS wanted to do this and it would only be one day a week for a few hours. I know what you are thinking, “you are not a chef” and you would be correct. I did do some time in culinary school, a very expensive lesson on how to section an orange and I have taught cooking classes here and there, but chef, not so much. I am however, not shy and I love people and food, so as long as no one cared that I am not officially a chef, I was overjoyed to teach this class.
Today I completed my 4th class and I am so sad that it will be over soon. I walked into this a little nervous and unsure how much value I could give my students. We expected about 10 people and have had the same 21 people show up every week. We have even had to turn people away. I told the students the first day of class that I was not there to teach them how to cook because most of them could probably teach me a thing or two, but that I was going to teach them how to cook what they love in a healthier way, while stretching their dollar.
So who runs this program? It is a little confusing. There is a national non-profit called SHARE OUR STRENGTH that is mostly known for incredible programs like TASTE OF THE NATION, GREAT AMERICAN DINE OUT and this program formerly called Operation Frontline, but has now been re-named COOKING MATTERS…phew.. but that’s not all. SHARE OUR STRENGTH partners with local non-profits to carry out their programs, such as the class I am teaching and locally, their partner is Fresh Approach, which is a subsidiary of Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association. You got all that?
Anyhoo, I LOVE this program and intend to teach another class starting in February. My students love the class. They rave about everything they have learned and the meals they have prepared for their families at home. It has also done wonders for my stand-up routine. I am going to do whatever I can to raise awareness for this great program. I have just been invited to be on Bay Area committee for COOKING MATTERS, but this is not about me me me. It turns out that you you you can also volunteer! Whoo hoo. Each class has a chef, kitchen assistant, nutrition person and extra volunteer. My team rocks. They are kind, intelligent and generous people that are doing an amazing service a few hours every week. There are classes in many languages, including English! I have a small group of English speakers in my class, but it is a mostly Latin American group.
I could go on, but a picture speaks a thousand words. Please ask me about the program and please contact Fresh Approach about Volunteer opportunities in your area. My goal is to get some media attention for this program, so if you know anyone in the media, tell them I will give them a kidney.
A really cool feature of this class is that at the end of every class, each student gets a bag of produce from the Farmer’s market to take home so they can prepare the recipes they learned.