How it started
I started teaching a “Life Skills” course at Gramercy House, a housing group that focuses on single mothers (typically out of the foster care system, age 19-‐24, one child, coming out of a bad situation of some sort). The house has full time day care, so they can get their schooling and job situation sorted. The rules of the housing group are parenting skills class, group therapy and Life Skills courses of all kinds. It is a fantastic program, to give a “hand up” so-to-speak.
My class focuses on how to eat clean, healthy and efficient with little money. My first class 2 weeks ago and was incredible. These 10 women had never had Kale salad. They wrinkled their noses at the sight of it. Then I watched them eat it, enjoy it, wanting the recipe, and going for seconds. I made hummus in the Vitamix – only 2 of them had ever had hummus. We made rice in the rice cooker, and “chicken bowls” – which they devoured. I also prepped a bean chili in the rice cooker that they could eat for 2 days. The prep on all of this took less than 45 minutes. I definitely mark this evening as one of the most special days of my life. Getting to share and help others with healing via food. We talked about child health, child brain health, what pesticides/ GMOs do, especially to child behavior. One mother interjected during the lecture about clean food basics and said “It sounds like these GMO people just want to keep us sick to pay the doctors.” Well, that was a moment.
I have researched the obstacles for low-‐income families over the years, and found that the access to clean food in communities where there is more government housing, is minimal. In LA, they can get to a Trader Joes (accepts EBT Cards). Now there is a Compton Farmers Market right off the Blue Line (where they accept EBT cards). Costco is an option, if we can overcome the membership part. With just a few tools, and some ongoing support – these women will be able to cook healthy and cost-‐effective for their family and friends—and share what they have learned to them….and so on….
I researched that their average income to start will be somewhere between 17-‐20k a year. Some of them go on to be nurses, and further their education. But how do they get a good healthy start as soon as they leave Gramercy? Everyone has the right to have healthy clean productive lives. (Backstory: My mother was on food stamps at one time, and I was a very sick child. She went out of her way to grow food, stretch soups, and keep processed foods and dairy out of my diet).
Next, I got the idea of “kickstarting their kitchen.” I was conversing with my friend who is a web designer and just said, this is kind of like “Adopt-‐A Kitchen.” And then she said, check Network Solutions, I think you have your website.
I am getting ready to launch www.AdoptAKitchen.com around the beginning of December. The goal is to keep it simple. Each mother will have a bio, an Amazon wish list. We are talking about a rice cooker, a slow cooker, and a blender (I hope a Vita Mix), with a few other basic tools, storage, BPA free items to get them started. And then one personalized “wish list” item. One of the mothers brightened up and said “A Juicer!” Adopt-A-Kitchen will also have ongoing support blog and email.
What I am Looking for, to Start: Corporate Involvement
(1) Costco. I would love to get each of these ladies a Costco membership. Maybe there is a reduced rate for this. If someone kicks forward their first year, how do they keep an ongoing membership? I have already researched they can use their electronic food stamp cards at Costco (and even the Farmers Market)!
(2) Vitamix. If I can find a contact for Vitamix who would be willing to do these at cost (or wholesale), that would be fantastic.
(3) Corporate contact in the Kitchen World. If you have any connection to a Kitchen Appliance company who may want to be involved, please let me know.
I am going to have a session this weekend with my web designer to start putting some ideas together and this list may grow a little, as I get closer to launch.
I already have chefs in other cities that want to help with this. The goal would be to make Adopt-A-Kitchen a hub for these types of homes only.