On Monday afternoons, a group of 6th-8th graders gathers in the basement of Reading-Lockland Presbyterian Church (RLPC). Each student sits attentively, a cutting board, chef’s knife, and tray of fresh vegetables on the table before them. They are ready for the Cincinnati Gives A Crock cooking class to begin.
Cincinnati Gives A Crock is a 10-week program by La Soupe that teaches students how to cook healthy meals. “In the first class, the kids get a crockpot to take home,” explains Carolyn Collette, founder of Cincinnati Gives a Crock. “Every week they prepare produce and ingredients for a recipe they will take home to make in the crockpot for their family.” So far, they’ve made Black Bean Soup and White Bean, Sausage & Kale Soup.
This week, Chef Jim (Jim Decker, a volunteer from La Soupe) leads the class in preparing ingredients for a breakfast casserole. He guides them through every step of the recipe. The kids chop green onions, peppers, potatoes, and cilantro. They crack eggs into a bowl and whisk them with milk and salt and pepper. Then they add cooked sausage and shredded cheese. Everything goes into a zip top bag, to be put in the crockpot at home.
Thanks to volunteers, the class runs smoothly. Chef Jim and Carolyn Collette are joined by Mike and Denise Eck (from Christ Church Glendale), Shirley Mesley (member of RLPC and Lockland’s WeTHRIVE! team), UC dietetics student Hannah Roberto, and the Rev. Dawne Sarchet (RLPC pastor).
Rev. Dawne brought the Cincinnati Gives A Crock program to RLPC. She is passionate about making sure the children of Lockland have access to healthy food and learn skills that will help them in life, and help them feel good about themselves.
The kids are all smiles, calm and intent on their task. When asked if they like to cook, most answer with an enthusiastic “yes!” Many have already mastered knife skills. Their produce looks like it was chopped by a pro.
At the end of class, they proudly gather the ingredients they’ve prepared, excited about making them into a meal for their families once they get home.