We’ve taught them how to tie their shoes, write the alphabet, and read a book. They’ve mastered the arts of tricycle riding, skating, dancing, and shooting hoops. But when it comes to teaching compassion and empathy, we don’t really have a lesson plan, good intentioned though we may be.
But Kids Cook to Care, a charitable organization, has got this covered. They offer an innovative approach to fostering empathy and compassion while giving back to the community—all through one of our favourite things: food!
The program works like this: kids aged 6-16 help prepare a meal in a community rec centre, and the food is served up to community members in need. Local chefs (including several Food Network alumni) help the kids with all stages of preparation and serving, and the meals are nutritious, made from scratch, and feature flavours from around the world.
We’re excited because kids learn proper cooking skills (from industry experts in the know, no less), learn about different cultures and foods, and—most importantly—they develop and practise empathy.
Meals are held monthly and require a four-hour time commitment. The only prerequisites are enthusiasm and the will to learn. Each kiddo needs to be accompanied by an adult, and you can sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A pre-event prep sheet contains all the details needed to prepare parent and kid chefs for the experience. There’s no fee to participate (everything from the ingredients to the equipment to the chefs’ time has been donated) but a small a small donation to help cover administrative costs is appreciated.
The special of the day? Compassion, food, and cultural awareness. Yes, Chef!