For the past eight weeks, I have been contacting local businesses procuring auction item donations for Chef’s Night Out, which will be held on October 3, 2010 to benefit the Operation Frontline (OFL) program that Solid Ground operates in partnership with Share Our Strength. From examining Operation Frontline’s website and blog and listening to my coworkers describe the delicious inventive recipes they learned in an OFL class, I could deduce that it was a great program. However, it seemed silly to me that I was asking businesses to invest in a program that I in fact had never even witnessed myself. So last Thursday I got the privilege of attending a class and witnessing firsthand just how great OFL is.
The class was held at a domestic violence shelter. It’s an ideal setting in which to learn how to transform the way one shops, prepares, and thinks of food, because these women are in the process of rebuilding their lives. Six young women, of different ethnicities and backgrounds who share the common thread of suffering and now overcoming domestic violence, sat around a large rectangular table as the volunteer chef and nutritionist discussed and demonstrated everything one needs to know about whole grains. As the women skeptically ate their appetizer of tabouleh salad, the volunteer nutritionist, using depictive diagrams and tangible examples, discussed the health benefits of whole grains and the variety in which they come. Next, the chef introduced the recipe that they were learning to cook: stir fry with brown rice. As she went through the steps of making the sauce, rice, and vegetables, she asked questions to keep the students involved. After the explanation, the women chopped, stirred, and mixed the ingredients to create the meal. As we enjoyed the delicious and nutritious stir fry, the nutritionist passed around different food packages and discussed how to identify whether an item is actually made from whole grains.
At the end of the course, each woman was given a bag full of groceries, their reward for coming to class. It was evident that not only were their hands and stomachs satiated, but also, they had gained knowledge that will alter the way they feed themselves as well as their families. The OFL class exceeded my expectations; I too learned about nutrition and cooking and was reassured that my work this summer will benefit a sustainable program that is truly contributing positively to the Seattle community.
(Editor’s note: Emily has been interning with Solid Ground this summer. She is returning soon to Duke University to complete her studies. We’ll miss her! And we hope she continues doing social change work!)