This week, we had visitors from the Contra Costa County bureau for Children and Family Services (CFS). The program coordinator, Don Graves, and Tim Hamm, the assistant program coordinator, came by to check out our new classroom.
Every year, CFS gives a recognition dinner for kids who’ve graduated from high school even though they have had big challenges in their lives. Chef Cindy has cooked for that banquet since 2009. Last year, kids from Mt. Diablo High helped cater that event. So Mr. Graves and Mr. Hamm came by to talk about the banquet, too. This year, our class is going to do the cooking for it!
It turns our that Mr. Hamm went to Mt. Diablo High. He took home economics in the classroom across the hall from the new kitchen. We’re using that classroom temporarily this year because it gives us access to the market garden we’re planting, and we used it for a while because our new space didn’t open up quite on schedule.
We asked our visitors what they thought about the contrast between the older classroom (the one across the hall) and our new kitchen classroom. Here’s what they said:
Mr. Hamm: “I took classes in this room. It was home ec in those days and it was chaotic. There were sewing machines and cooking materials, everything thrown into one area. Also, as part of my job at CFS, I taught life skills classes in this room for years. But this old room is depressing. The color. Everything’s old.”
Mr. Graves: “The new room symbolizes a bright future, You’re talking about food. You re-training how kids think about food. You’re changing their palates. We’re in this fast food society, where convenience overruns health. I see this not only healthwise, but careerwise. Today, I talked to a student, Cyndy. She told me that she wants to be a lawyer, and that she still wants to be a lawyer, but that Chef Cindy’s class has helped open her eyes about business ownership.”
Mr. Hamm: “When you walk into the new room, it’s like walking into another world. It gives kids hope. It gives kids quality of life. It’s investing in careers, and in longevity of life. It’s awesome.”