Cooking together ‘breaks the ice’
Tuesday June 5, 2012 — Michelle Strutzenberger
Antoinette Ancheta understands that sometimes you need a little support, but maybe sitting in a group talking just doesn’t cut it. That’s what was on her mind a few years ago when she dreamed up the notion of a community kitchen for some moms who have a disability that she supports.
“When you cook with people, you can be busy with cooking, or you can be busy with talking, but you don’t feel you have to be on the spot to just talk. Cooking together just kind of breaks the ice,” says Antoinette, a family support worker with the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI).
For about five years she and the group of mothers have been meeting every second week at the common kitchen of the BACI Filby Centre.
They start by making themselves a lunch that they eat together. Then the kitchen becomes a bustle of activity as they partner in cooking dinner for themselves and their families to bring home.
The group originated with four moms but now eight cooks, in addition to Antoinette, fill the tiny kitchen. She’s thankful a new volunteer has just joined in to help out.
Just as she had anticipated, cooking together has brought a degree of comfort, opening up conversations that other settings might not and sparking new connections and friendships.
It was through this activity, for instance, that two of the moms “clicked” and have now forged a strong friendship outside of the gatherings.
The community kitchen is also connected to a number of local food and goods organizations, including the food bank. The group has access to donated produce for the cooking it does, but the extras can also be taken to share with their families.
The food bank connection in particular has been very successful, says Antoinette.
“For a lot of parents, the whole thing of lining up at the food banks, they don’t really enjoy doing that. But here, they can just come in, and get what they need.”
Antoinette notes the mothers in the group are in a unique space in that they have a developmental disability, and are raising children who have a disability. She had originally tried linking them with other parents that BACI is connected to, but notes they seem to be thriving more with this other arrangement.
The community kitchen recently received a new grant, and is going so well the group is hoping to begin meeting every weekly instead of just biweekly.
— More to Come
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