If you happen to walk down the second grade hallway at KIPP Kirkpatrick Elementary School on the right Friday, your noise will catch a mouth-watering scent of chicken noodle soup or chili.
Instead of her regular space, Elizabeth White’s office is transformed into a test kitchen and cooking class for the school’s families.
“We meet once a month and have an average of 15 moms and sometimes some dads who join us,” says White, KIPP Kirkpatrick’s Family and Community Engagement Specialist
White and cooking instructor, Betsy Fisher, busy themselves handing out aprons and prepping each of the workstations with all the necessary ingredients and recipes needed for the day’s meals.
“It makes me feel connected to the school and to other parents,” explains Tonette Fletcher, who has three children at KIPP Kirkpatrick.
Fisher, who has been a long-time volunteer at the school, is a self-taught cook who loves sharing her knowledge with others. For Fisher, the class is about nurturing a love of cooking in others, as well as helping families become more comfortable in the kitchen so they might be more inclined to cook at home.
Since the class began in October 2017, Fisher explains, “I’ve been teaching lots of basic cooking skills: how to dice an onion, how to measure dry versus wet ingredients, as well as how to plan a menu, how to multi-task in the kitchen, and how to keep and store leftovers.”
Once Fisher does her mini lesson at the beginning of class and goes over the cooking skills needed to execute the meals they will be working on, the parents split into three groups and each make a different recipe together.
The class helps families build relationships with each other, as well as the school, but there are also long-term benefits White hopes come out of it.
“We hope the class teaches parents how to make easy meals using simple ingredients, as well as educating them on how to make healthy choices in the kitchen and the grocery store,” says White. “Cooking doesn’t have to be intimidating or scary! Anyone can follow a simple recipe and make a delicious meal for their family.”
While Tonette chops an onion for their chicken noodle soup, she adds, “It’s really nice to learn new things, especially quick recipes that you can throw together with things you already have in your pantry.”
The cooking class is made possible through a grant from a KIPP Kirkpatrick community partner, Christ Presbyterian Church.
White explains, “I think it’s really important for our families to have access to high quality opportunities like a cooking class. Besides teaching and empowering them to cook healthy food for their families, an invitation to something like this sends the message, ‘You matter, you and your children are important, and you deserve the best- no matter where you live or how much money you make.’ It’s always my goal to make sure our families hear that message, and I think things like cooking class are one small way we as a school can do that.”
Of course, after all the hard work is done and the food is ready to eat, the class gets to enjoy the fruits of their labor by sitting down and sharing a meal together. Any leftovers are sent home with the families, along with a recipe binder that is added to each month.
With love, from the Kitchen of KIPP Kirkpatrick Elementary School.