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COOKSHOP PROGRAM

Cooking skills are the essence of the CookShop Food Education Program. Cooking skills are quickly disappearing in today’s world of highly processed food products, yet are essential to health, self-sufficiency, and nutrition. The tension between convenience on the one hand and wholesomeness on the other exists at mealtimes in our homes and our institutions -- schools, soup kitchens, hospitals, and others.

In 1994, Toni began to develop a school-based curriculum to build up cooking skills across the entire school community—its students, their parents, and the school lunchrooms of New York City. The initial ten foods were plant-based, represented the different parts of the plant, whole in nature and, for the most part, able to be grown in the northeastern part of the United States. The child-friendly recipes developed were simple enough for young children (K-2) to follow in small groups, fun to make, tasty to children of this age even without adding large amounts of sugar, fat and salt and, even better, can be integrated into the School Lunch Program.

Because this work is experiential and NOT only recipes to be handed out, Toni needed to secure steady funding for ongoing development and enrichment. Having accomplished that, the CookShop model now (almost 15 years later) builds up cooking skills with people from 5 to 95 in a variety of settings beyond elementary classrooms—health centers, soup kitchens, after-school programs, urban gardens and more. Some of the early-on foods that the NYC Department of Education brought into its massive school lunch reform effort (carrots, apples) are CookShop foods, but now sourced from the region and thus bring the farm-to-school concept full circle through this state-of-the-art food education program. See the FoodChange (formerly Community Food Resource Center) website for a description of today’s programming.