Kids’ Cooking Coalition goes virtual

Photo by Tevin Stinson Local chef Josh McGee leads Kids’ Cooking Coalition’s first virtual cooking class on Monday, March 1 at the Enterprise Center.

Kids’ Cooking Coalition goes virtual
March 04
11:00 2021

With support from the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University (CKWFU), in 2018 Margaret Savoca, Ph.D, launched an initiative called Kids’ Cooking Coalition (KCC), which is designed to introduce local children to cooking and preparing healthy meals. Due to the pandemic, KCC was forced to stop holding in-person classes, but now the initiative is back, virtually. Throughout the month of March, KCC is hosting a series of cooking classes presented by local chefs.

Savoca, who is a nutrition researcher and longtime community volunteer, said she felt the need to create the program to give local children another tool in their toolbox. She said she is a strong believer that learning skills, like cooking a healthy meal, can go a long way. 

“I just have a belief that kids need skills in life to be able to function and be healthy and cooking is one of those skills. It also brings a creative element to their lives,” Savoca said 

Before the hiatus due to the pandemic, the six-week cooking course was held at several locations throughout the city, including Cook Literacy Model School, the YWCA Best Choice Center, and Polo Park Recreation Center. Children were paired with student volunteers from Wake Forest University and a site coordinator to help prepare the food. Senior English major Kayla Willis, who is a native of Atlanta, has been a KCC volunteer since its inception in 2018 and now serves as the program director. Willis said she decided to get involved with the program after she noticed how much food insecurity impacted families in the area.

“One of the first things I noticed when I came to Winston was the food insecurity and the food deserts, so I was immediately attracted to Campus Kitchen and wanted to a part of it and Kids Cooking Coalition provided balance because I love working with kids and everybody likes to eat, so it was just a win-win situation,” Willis said.

Now that the cooking course is virtual, the entire family has the opportunity to get involved.

Throughout the month, local chefs will host live cooking classes via Zoom from the Enterprise Center, while families prepare dishes in the comfort of their own homes. All of the ingredients except for the protein are provided by KCC and CKWFU. Children will also receive a KCC apron.

When discussing the virtual classes, Savoca said after talking with other organizers, Brad Shugoll, associate director of Wake’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement, and Sydney King with Americorp Vista, they just felt the time was right to bring the classes back.

“We felt it was a way to lighten things up and make it a fun cooking night for the entire family,” Savoca continued. “It’s something we felt would be like a treat and the response has been wonderful. We’ve filled all the classes so that gives us the indication that there was a lot of interest in it.”

The theme of KCC’s first virtual class was Cooking from Your Pantry, where local chef and co-founder of the sauce “Y’all Company”, Josh McGee, led a tutorial on making Thai Stir-Fry with Ramen Noodles. Other local chefs scheduled to lead the virtual course include Terrell Anistead, Shanta Hauser, and N’Gai Dickerson. Anistead will prepare Shrimp & Grits, Hauser will lead a tutorial on homemade Spaghetti Squash Pasta and Dickerson will teach families how to make an authentic Ethiopian dish.

According to Savoca, the KCC is planning to host a series of pop-up cooking courses for children this summer and fall. For more information or to find a quick and easy recipe, visit Kids’ Cooking Coalition on Facebook.

KCC falls under the umbrella of the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University (CKWFU). Since 2006 CKWFU has functioned as an asset-based approach to strengthening the Winston-Salem community by partnering with a network of civic, non-profit, and private organizations to develop innovative solutions to reduce food insecurity. Other KCC sponsors include Aramark, Cook Literacy Model School, Reynolds Rotary Club of Winston-Salem, Wal-Mart, and the local YWCA.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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