By Joy Casnovsky
The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® Director
The foundation of The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® is the cadre of 40+ trained Facilitators that lead classes and workshops across Austin. These are community members who care deeply about helping others eat healthy and hone their cooking skills and confidence. Even though I adore working at Sustainable Food Center and thoroughly believe in our mission, I still sometimes get stuck in the day-to-day grind of running the Program (yes, I just admitted that!). However, my eyes always light up upon hearing stories first-hand from the Facilitators, like the ones I heard this week. It reminds me of the fantastic work we are doing in the community by cultivating leaders and connecting people to their food.
Ida is currently facilitating a six-week class at the HEB at William Cannon and I-35. As part of our GROW-SHARE-PREPARE model, we always use produce from one of our SFC Farmers’ Market in at least one of the six classes to introduce farmers’ market produce to the participants. Ida went to the SFC Farmers' Mkt -Triangle to buy strawberries and this is what she wrote me about her experience—
I just loved Phil the farmer he was so sweet and kind to me. He gave me a $19.00 discount since I had bought 16 pints [of strawberries] for the class. I did some shopping and got 2 more pints for my children. Then I went back and said Phil you did not charge me right and he said you bought so many I wanted to give you a good deal and he thanked me for being honest. I thought he did not use a calculator but he is one sharp little old man and he hand-picked all 18 pints to make sure he gave me the best strawberries for the class and they were delicious. It was my husband’s birthday and I bought a plate full of vegan cupcakes, olive & rosemary bread, wheat bread, and some Indian food since it was a special day at our home. I was the first customer so I got the best of everything they had. So I came back with lots of goodies. So everything went very very well at the farmer’s market.
Ida eating strawberries from the market
Roseanna is also facilitating a six-week class, but is at the HEB at Rundberg and North Lamar. The six-week model aims to provide a supportive atmosphere for people to make those cooking and dietary changes. This story exemplifies that perfectly!
Tonight the question was asked what they wanted to get out of these next 5 weeks. Almost everyone is having major physical challenges and all of them showed a genuine concern for their overall health and really desired changes. I had some index cards with me and had an idea for this group. I shared with them on how I really applauded their humbleness on what they shared and I wanted them to take it one step further and that was to write down the bullets of what they had shared and tack on there a goal and we would review on the last week. They loved that and I had one come up to me and shared her desire to regain her ability to dream again and set goals for herself so I gave her some tools to help her achieve that. Another came up and really shared some personal info about herself so I made myself her accountability partner if you will for the next 5 weeks. This is a group that really wants it and I am really in a state of expectancy for them.
Roseanna going over The Happy Plate