By Nick Osborne
Lowcountry Food Bank
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to join one of our Lowcountry Food Bank’s (LCFB) Cooking Matters classes with one of our partners, AMIKids Georgetown. Cooking Matters is an integral part of our nutrition program, delivered by our nutrition education team through a six-week series of weekly cooking classes, which includes a focus on kid-specific lessons in the kitchen.
AMIKids is a residential program for boys who have faced a number of challenges in their lives. This program is designed to help boys discover their potential, create hope, transform their lives, and in doing so, strengthen their families and communities. The program offers boys with somewhat limited options the opportunity to break the cycle of hopelessness and, for some, poverty. AMIKids Georgetown is located in a remote area just to the south of Georgetown.
When I arrived, I walked into the kitchen classroom not really knowing what to expect. I was joining AMIKids on a special day – graduation day. The boys, organized into two teams, were competing against each other in a kitchen cook-off, putting into practice everything they had learned over the previous six weeks.
The class of 16 boys – aged 13 to 15 years – were feverishly discussing, debating, and strategizing on the meals they were about to prepare – the ingredients, who was going to do what task, and how they were going to prepare and cook the different parts of their meals. Suzy, LCFB’s Nutrition Coordinator who led the six-week cooking classes, remained close at hand to answer any questions and provide support.
The energy and focus with which the two teams set about their tasks was awe inspiring. As they worked through their assigned tasks, I realized I was witnessing the valuable role and potential that food plays in such young minds. It was clear that food, combined with the simple act of cooking, had brought these boys together, taught them how to work as a team, support and depend on each other, question alternatives, and agree on the best course of action. These are life skills that will undoubtedly help them in their future as they continue to discover and act positively on their potential, transforming their lives for the better.
The day was also about celebration, recognizing the accomplishments of this young group of boys, the ability to work as a team, to prepare a full meal, and finally, a sense of profound achievement. This was yet another reminder of not only the value that food brings to those who are unable to access a reliable source of nutritious food, but also of how food can act as a conduit for developing skills that can contribute to nurturing the full potential for those who don’t always have the same access to opportunities as many of us.
A huge thank you to all the boys and the wonderful staff at AMIKids Georgetown.