By Leika Suzumura
Food is the one common thread that weaves through all our lives. Eating is a basic need we all face and throughout history has shaped the cultures of people around the world. Looking at the food culture in America which is reflected in our obesity epidemic and crumbling health care system, it is clear that we must reshape our food habits. This is why the Community Kitchen Project is increasingly important. These gatherings offer community members a supportive environment to come together by pooling resources and preparing large quantities of food to share, all while learning new cooking skills, meal planning techniques, and enjoying the company of their fellow neighbors. Community Kitchens offer the potential through long term establishment to address the issues of food security and diet related chronic disease prevention through lifestyle habits around food.
The Rainier Community Kitchen Project intends to increase accessibility to quality foods for low income families with few resources and support systems. The approach is to enhance self sufficiency by participants acquiring basic culinary skills and meal planning to enhance their home cooking based on the knowledge and resources obtained through the community kitchens. These events will also provide social opportunities for those who are isolated or lacking family support.
This pilot program will bring community kitchens to low income residents in the Rainier Valley of South Seattle. Beginning in October 2009 through June 2010, monthly kitchen events will be offered at both the Rainier Community Center. Through their involvement in community kitchens, participants will increase access to healthy foods by cooking and taking home prepared meals. They will enrich their cooking and meal planning capacity by having guided cooking stations following healthy recipes with input from both a nutritionist and experienced cook. Lastly, they will foster social networks for their well being by interacting and connecting with their fellow neighbors. Recognizing the diversity found in South Seattle, the sharing of food cultures through community kitchens also offers a unique way to bring people of different backgrounds together in a nurturing environment through an angle of empowerment to share food ways with others.