boardwalk Teaching teens essential skills in cooking and food literacy with a mobile kitchen at the Library.

Food affects everyone, it plays an important role in our cultures, our identities, and our social interactions. The act of cooking fresh and healthy food is transformative.

We propose to buy a mobile kitchen, a portable dishwasher, books, ingredients, and supplies to teach cooking programs for teens across Brooklyn. The mobile kitchen that inspired this proposal is called a Charlie Cart and is specifically designed as a mobile classroom for cooking with young people. The cart is equipped with a convection oven, induction cooktop, and rinse station. One electric cord powers the whole cart, specifically designed to prevent circuit overload. The cart is equipped to instruct a class of thirty. It is compact, measuring 5’x3’x2’ and can travel across Brooklyn in a flatbed truck or BPL van.

Partnering with two high schools, Leon Goldstein High School, and the LYFE program for teen parents at Thomas Jefferson Campus High School, we will pilot a cooking program in six week cycles at the corresponding branches: Brighton Beach and New Lots. As we are piloting the hands-on model, our sessions will be capped at ten teens. We will reflect between cycles to refine our curriculum. We will also be working closely with East New York Farms’ youth internship program, an organization dedicated to promoting local sustainable agriculture and community-led economic development, to host at least three food demos in the community over the summer, between cycles.

At each partner organization, we will book talk cookbooks and food culture books from the Cookmobile Collection and prepare a quick food demo to hook in our audience.

Cooking is an ideal teaching tool for teens as it addresses multiple intelligences and gives young people a myriad of ways to participate and build self confidence. Our curriculum emphasizes that home cooking can be easy, enjoyable, cost effective, healthy, and delicious. Over the course of six weeks, our food literacy lessons connect food preparation and health, equity and access to fresh ingredients, global food traditions and Brooklyn food culture. We will cover nutrition, diet-related illnesses, and plant based medicinal practices. Teens will have the opportunity to compare products, decipher labels, critique food politics, discuss body positivity, and practice the planning and making of meals. Teens will also generate their own recipes to compile into a Cookmobile Teen Recipe Book at the end of the pilot.

This proposal was created for Brighton Beach Library, New Lots Library, and Central Library.
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