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Cooking classes for disadvantaged folks


chefzadi
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I know I read somewhere in some Egullet thing, maybe it was the Mission Statement or something that egullet is interested in or does organize cooking classes for low income people. It was something about some culinary education outreach. Did I imagine reading this?

Does anyone know anything about this? I'm asking because I've been wanting to get involved in something like this for a long time. Maybe I should I email one of the site administrators, but I have no idea who.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I know I read somewhere in some Egullet thing, maybe it was the Mission Statement or something that egullet is interested in or does organize cooking classes for low income people. It was something about some culinary education outreach. Did I imagine reading this?

Does anyone know anything about this? I'm asking because I've been wanting to get involved in something like this for a long time. Maybe I should I email one of the site administrators, but I have no idea who.

Good thinking. This is a wonderful service that eG'ers could perform in our communities. eGCI is a wonderful resource for those of us who are already interested and simply want to expand our repetoire. Perhaps we need to work up a course on nutritious food on a low budget for people who may or may not have much skill in the kitchen.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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My wife is working on the teaching materials. We did some research and talked some people. We were told that at a certain level many of these low income folks are used to feeding themselves mostly out of boxes and cans. They have virtually no cooking skills, besides re-heating. Aside from teaching them basic skills it's also necessary to teach them about home economics.They are onbviously on very limited budgets. Education about coupons, shopping for specials, even things that may seem obvious like when there is a buy one get one free of equal or lesser weight on deal on a whole chicken they should pick chickens that weigh the same... Budgeting, meal planning, nutrition, etc...

Edited by chefzadi (log)

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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chefzadi, I saw this on your original post, and thought it was really cool. It is something I have also always wanted to do. I have tutored disadvantaged children, and my job would have been a lot easier if they had been giving the kids nutritious snacks after school instead of all those sugary drinks and cookies.

There really seems to be a need for this type of education out there: I lived in a rough neighborhood for a while and always felt bad when women would stop me at the cash register and ask me about the month's worth of food I was able to buy with so little cash..."what is that/ what do you do with that?" (Lentils, rice, onions etc...grad student food.)

One key thing would be to teach people to make simple good food that doesn't take a lot of time or can be done ahead, since most people work very tough hours. The other problem is having access to good ingredients. At least in Philly the cheaper places to buy produce or less expensive groceries really required a car.

To be completely frank as much as I enjoy eG as a place to learn about food, I'd be a lot more comfortable donating if I felt we were doing something besides comparing fancy dinners. I would love to see this place reach out to a larger community.

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Behemoth-

Sort of puts it all in perspective, eh? I think that us egulleteers (is that the word) can make this happen pretty fast. We can start on a tutorial for teaching the classes. My wife has a basic outline, she knows basically WHAT needs to be taught in these sort of classes. But she's a KAP (Korean American Princess), she breaks a nail if she has to be a on a budget. So input from someone who has more "real life" experience would be much appreciated. I have contact with some vendors who would more than likely make donate foodstuffs and kitchen wares. These classe DO NOT have to be taught by expert chefs. I really think we could get something going here.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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You are not hallucinating, chefzadi.

The eGullet Society statement of purpose reads in relevant part:

- People throughout the world and in all economic circumstances can be healthier, wealthier and happier by learning to eat well and cook well, and by thinking and speaking more clearly about their food and drink;

In addition, our statement of purpose specifies that our current and planned activities include:

- Developing and offering educational programs, including the eGullet Culinary Institute, an online learning program; and outreach programs about food and cooking to schools and underprivileged adults;

In the last semester of our eGullet Culinary Institute (eGCI), a team of eGullet Society members presented an amazing eGCI course called "Cooking with Disabilities." This three-part course, which we hope reached many people who benefited from it (and it even got some nice coverage in the Washington Post), inspired us to make a commitment to do more along those lines.

What we have been discussing as our next step is creating additional classes about things like cooking on a budget and basic nutrition for the coming semester of the eGCI. We are going to have an announcement very shortly (next week) about the coming semester and how to get involved. After those courses go live, we should start a dialog about ways to get that information to groups of people who aren't necessarily going to read it online.

Thanks for thinking along these lines. Next week, I hope everyone who is interested in getting involved in this project will contact the eGCI administrators and join in.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This is great. Truly truly brilliant.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Thank you FG-

I was beginning to think that I was imagining things around here. I've been thinking about this for so long. Ever since I was 14 when I started my first job in a restaurant. Yeah, I know I grew up with some of the best food in France. But I was one of 7 kids and my maman raised us all alone. Food dissappeared FAST. So there you go, the best foods but not enough. At my first job I was in awe of the excess. I would go into the frigo and just stare at the all the glorious, copious food. I washed dishes and polished copper pans and pots just to eat the staff meal. I can on a visceral level relate to the people I want to help (My English is not so good, maybe I'm phrasing it wrong). Anyway, I want to do all I can to help egullet with this project.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I can't tell you how serendipitous this thread is for me. I was just speaking to a volunteer at the local domestic abuse shelter about setting up this very thing! She was receptive but had no idea how to implement something like this. I've been working on outlines for marketing, budgeting and menu planning on my own and would definitely appreciate ideas.

Thanks

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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I can't tell you how serendipitous this thread is for me.  I was just speaking to a volunteer at the local domestic abuse shelter about setting up this very thing!  She was receptive but had no idea how to implement something like this.  I've been working on outlines for marketing, budgeting and menu planning on my own and would definitely appreciate ideas.

Thanks

Great. There are several shelters in Hollywood, South Central, hey even the Valley that I know are interested. The need is there and the need is so simple to identify. We are touching on another part of the project. We need egulleteers to post WHERE and WHOM (? sorry English not me first tongue, ha ha) our classes are can be taught.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I'll let the eGCI team take the lead on organizing this effort -- and of course all who are interested in being on that team are welcome to join soon -- but my thinking on this has been that we would need to focus on course development before we could focus on outreach. In other words, first we create online classes that contain the information we want to teach. Then we create an online system of teaching our volunteers to carry that information forth into the world -- essentially a how-to-teach-the-class class, plus supporting printed materials (basic information, recipes, etc.) that can be distributed in person. We would probably want to have a certification process, whereby volunteers who wish to present courses on behalf of the eGullet Society have to demonstrate familiarity with the course materials and go through a basic review by the eGCI staff. That's the point at which I think it would make sense to start interfacing with organizations and sending people out to teach. And I don't think it ends there -- there is much more we can do. But we have to start with the basics.

This is all in the very early stages. It's going to take some time to make all this happen, but with more human resources (not to mention more money) we can make it happen faster.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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What we have been discussing as our next step is creating additional classes about things like cooking on a budget and basic nutrition for the coming semester of the eGCI.

Thanks for thinking along these lines. Next week, I hope everyone who is interested in getting involved in this project will contact the eGCI administrators and join in.

I know when Food TV came out with Rachel Ray's program about $40 a day, I was rather upset. I know many people who have to live on $40/week for a food budget. I wrote to FoodTV, and suggested that they might consider a program for those folks as well.

I think this would be a great service. I don't have much to offer, but I feel there is a great need out there for this sort of thing. I have often though that I would love to teach folks to eat well on a strict budget.

And to shop. Where to shop, to get the best bargains. That in some ways can be a real key. Plus cooking what they are able to find.

Edited by artisan02 (log)
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Chefzadi, I live in Wisconsin but, plainly there is a need for this type of program everywhere. I don't think there is a specific demographic because the term disadvantaged covers lots of different populations. What Iwould love to see is a base that would serve as a guideline that teachers could build on. Something that could be modified to suit regional variances. If done under the aegis of e-gullet, would there be chapters with volunteers that could be trained? ( Or am I getting ahead of myself?) And if so, could they associate with local institutions who have access to a base population and basic kitchens already set up?

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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I'll let the eGCI team take the lead on organizing this effort -- and of course all who are interested in being on that team are welcome to join soon -- but my thinking on this has been that we would need to focus on course development before we could focus on outreach. In other words, first we create online classes that contain the information we want to teach. Then we create an online system of teaching our volunteers to carry that information forth into the world -- essentially a how-to-teach-the-class class, plus supporting printed materials (basic information, recipes, etc.) that can be distributed in person. We would probably want to have a certification process, whereby volunteers who wish to present courses on behalf of the eGullet Society have to demonstrate familiarity with the course materials and go through a basic review by the eGCI staff. That's the point at which I think it would make sense to start interfacing with organizations and sending people out to teach. And I don't think it ends there -- there is much more we can do. But we have to start with the basics.

This is all in the very early stages. It's going to take some time to make all this happen, but with more human resources (not to mention more money) we can make it happen faster.

Yes FG, your sentiments exactly. You are absolutely right and this is what we have been talking about in this thread. Thanks to all those who PM'ed me and emailed me. Certainly we as egulleteers (some native English speakers tell me if this if the correct term) can contritbute as a "whole" to the "whole".

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Chefzadi,  I live in Wisconsin but, plainly there is a need for this type of program everywhere.  I don't think there is a specific demographic because the term disadvantaged covers lots of different populations.  What Iwould love to see is  a base that would serve as a guideline that teachers could build on.  Something that could be modified to suit regional variances.  If done under the aegis of e-gullet, would there be chapters with volunteers that could be trained?  ( Or am I getting ahead of myself?)  And if so, could they associate with local institutions who have access to a base population and basic kitchens already set up?

I would love to be a part of this. This is a real passion of mine.

I don;t know how much of a teacher I am, but I am a decent home cook. I grew up in a family that had to stretch the food budget a long ways. I grew up cooking and learning from my mother who stretched said food budget. She cooked every night after a long and boring day job, and fed us well, on I don't know how little.

I go to markets and see people filling their carts with junk, and TV dinners. Many of them are using food stamps to buy this stuff. I keep on thinking, if you knew how, and were able to cook the raw ingredients, your money would go a lot further.

I realize that many disadvantaged folks cannot fix meals, for whatever reason. But I still think they can do a lot better.

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The beauty of the online format for teaching teachers is that chapters aren't needed. We have one big global chapter, and it's easy to accumulate feedback and create regionally adapted materials quickly using our distance-learning technologies. We are also already blessed with a regionally distributed system of discussion forums with managers, hosts and members who live in those areas. So we have a very good infrastructure in place already -- it's mostly, I think, a question of adapting it to this purpose. I have a good feeling about all this -- I'm really glad to see so much enthusiasm. This is how the eGCI started in the first place -- a member put up a post, and next thing we knew we were up and running.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Chefzadi,  I live in Wisconsin but, plainly there is a need for this type of program everywhere.  I don't think there is a specific demographic because the term disadvantaged covers lots of different populations.  What Iwould love to see is  a base that would serve as a guideline that teachers could build on.  Something that could be modified to suit regional variances.  If done under the aegis of e-gullet, would there be chapters with volunteers that could be trained?  ( Or am I getting ahead of myself?)  And if so, could they associate with local institutions who have access to a base population and basic kitchens already set up?

fou de Bassan-

The need is the round over. We all know that. Thank you so much for pointing it out. And yes I think that egullet has the greatest potential for spreading the word throughout all the layers of the media (medium) and the world.. Again, my English is $hit.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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The need is the round over. We all know that. Thank you so much for pointing it out.  And yes I think that egullet has the greatest potential for spreading the word throughout all the layers of the media (medium) and the world.. Again, my English is $hit.

I am thinking there is a need for us to return to what Madeline Kamman called (and forgive my spelling, cause I am probably totally off on this) Cuisine de Misere..

The cuisine that derived from finding less than perfect ingredients in a marketplace for a fraction of their orignial cost, and transforming them into something delicious. Don't a lot of our great dishes stem from this?

This is not to detract from finding the absolute best indgredients around, and working with those, but the majority of us don't have those funds to do that. We have to work with what we got, and soemtimes what we got is just an ordinary supermarket and very limited funds. IF we are lucky, we have ethnic markets available, and farmers markets.

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Chefzadi, I think your idea is admirable. It is true that a great many people need help with learning how to prepare inexpensive, nutritious food.

I have done a fair amount of volunteer work with community outreach organizations. And there are a great many things to consider in addition to teaching people how to prepare nutritious foods.

One thing that we found was that far too often most of these people lacked the means to prepare food, not just the knowledge of how to prepare it.

My friends and I have donated quite a few items over the years so women with children, mostly, but sometimes seniors, both men and women, would have the utensils with which to cook and a clean place to cook.

When I was still physically able, I helped to clean and disinfect kitchens that were in deplorable condition.

Often the very poor, on limited, fixed incomes, have no way to get to markets where they can buy reasonably priced foods and must rely on the convenience stores they can reach on foot.

Another worry for them is the use of appliances which increase their utility costs when the difference is being able to afford heat, or light, food or medications. Often they live without hot water because the gas that heats the water heater costs so much that it uses up what they would otherwise spend on food.

Food banks help, when they have the resources, but again, there is a problem with transportation as these facilities are few and far between.

It is an extremely complex problem and all facets must be considered.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Chefzadi, I think your idea is admirable.  It is true that a great many people need help with learning how to prepare inexpensive, nutritious food. 

I have done a fair amount of volunteer work with community outreach organizations.  And there are a great many things to consider in addition to teaching people how to prepare nutritious foods.

One thing that we found was that far too often most of these people lacked the means to prepare food, not just the knowledge of how to prepare it.

My friends and I have donated quite a few items over the years so women with children, mostly, but sometimes seniors, both men and women, would have the utensils with which to cook and a clean place to cook. 

When I was still physically able, I helped to clean and disinfect kitchens that were in deplorable condition. 

Often the very poor, on limited, fixed incomes, have no way to get to markets where they can buy reasonably priced foods and must rely on the convenience stores they can reach on foot.

Another worry for them is the use of appliances which increase their utility costs when the difference is being able to afford heat, or light, food or medications.  Often they live without hot water because the gas that heats the water heater costs so much that it uses up what they would otherwise spend on food. 

Food banks help, when they have the resources, but again, there is a problem with transportation as these facilities are few and far between.

It is an extremely complex problem and all facets must be considered.

Andie-

I know exactly what you are talking about. "Here is this help, now get here!" Yeah that was what I was trying to point out too. Pennies make a difference.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Andie-

I know exactly what you are talking about. "Here is this help, now get here!"  Yeah that was what I was trying to point out too.  Pennies make a difference.

Not only pennies.

I have friends who are disabled and many days, even if they know how to cook and eat well, and even shop well, they cannot do so. It may be all they can do to heat up a can of soup or eat crackers. And being on a really limited income makes it harder.

I found this out, when discussing this with a good friend who is on disability with a severe bipolar disorder. I was talking to her about the things I see in the grocery carts of low income shoppers. She straighened me out fast. ;)

They may have a great desire to eat well but physical limitations and severely limited funds make it really difficult. Sometimes even shopping is a real chore and finding stuff to eat when you can barely stay awake or have very little interest in food, or a myriad of other reasons, is as much as you can do. Much less cooking somethign that tastes good, or will feed a family for less. Then one goes for the easiest and cheapest fix. And that can lead to the awful junk we see in the grocery carts.

I know there was a class on cooking with disabilities, and I need to look it over, but I think this another factor that needs to be considered.

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There have been many good points raised. I do urge everyone who has not done so to check out the cooking for and with disabilities classes. I was a "tri" author. I know first hand just how difficult it can be to cook for someone with disabilities. And, disabilities are more likely to strike those that are living in poverty. They may be elderly, they may be young. Fact is, they often don't have resources (because the resourses cost money -- Heidi is very lucky).

On another note, less than a year ago from an area of North Minneapolis plagued with poverty. I'll never forget taking my neighbor (car-less) to the supermarket. As she loaded up her cart with things like toaster waffles, I suggested we stop and get her a waffle iron and buy the stuff to make waffles at the market.

Well, bottom line is that food stamps (EBD here in MN) covers frozen waffles. Or the ingredients. But, it doesn't cover the cost of the waffle iron. Bottom line. I gave her a waffle iron for her birthday (an early gift), told her that when the kids were at school, make a mess of waffles, freeze them, and you will provide your kids with more for less.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I am thinking there is a need for us to return to what Madeline Kamman called (and forgive my spelling, cause I am probably totally off on this) Cuisine de Misere.. 

The cuisine that derived from finding less than perfect ingredients in a marketplace for a fraction of their orignial cost, and transforming them into something delicious.  Don't a lot of our great dishes stem from this?

Indeed. That sounds like a good description of a lot of soul food, Caribbean food, and Chinese food, for example. But I don't know how often the urban poor -- not to mention the suburban and rural poor -- around a country like the US can find all the different kinds of innards available in Chinatown butcher shops for good prices.

I think it's great that this kind of class is under consideration, and I look forward to seeing what people will come up with.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Indeed. That sounds like a good description of a lot of soul food, Caribbean food, and Chinese food, for example. But I don't know how often the urban poor -- not to mention the suburban and rural poor -- around a country like the US can find all the different kinds of innards available in Chinatown butcher shops for good prices.

I

I don;t think that is exactly necessary to have all that. I am sure that many of the worlds great cuisines, including our own didn't have that as accessible to them as many of us do now. Certainly not in terms of soul food. One can often find the basic ingredients of soul food in a lot of markets.

But, there is often a markdown case in a supermarket, and the meat hasn't gone bad, but is marked down as if it is going bad that minute. ANd there are often ham hocks, and other meats that are quite reasonable and can be stretched to the utmost. Not to mention the loss leaders.

And there are the stores that are grocery outlets, where one can sometimes find incredible bargains which are actually pretty good.

We work with what we have.

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