16 October 2012

Collective Cooking

By Rell Ohlson, Kitchen Commons

National Food Day is coming up on October 24th, which is a celebration of healthy and sustainable food systems. Here in Portland, many of us are aware of the different aspects of socially and environmentally just food systems, particularly in relation to the local growing and distribution of fresh food.

However, I’ve always felt that the role of cooking in food justice is just as vital. I think most of us can appreciate the simple pleasures of sharing an awesome meal with our friends. Preparing and sharing meals together has been a part of many cultures for hundreds of years, and not just for special occasions. Yet cooking together can also keep us engaged with one another and more appreciative of the food we eat.

Since I’ve started working for the local non-profit Kitchen Commons, I’ve seen firsthand how cooking can be used in community building. We’ve been supporting a network of organizations who are either interested in creating their own cooking groups or sharing their kitchen space with the community. My role has been to organize and help facilitate two collective cooking groups in NE Portland.

Collective Cooking Groups are a way of stretching food dollars, strengthening community ties, promoting cultural preservation and fostering resource and skill sharing. Participants learn from each other, sharing tips and tactics for cooking healthy food even with busy schedules. Our groups have made dishes such as fennel salad, pumpkin tortilla soup, corn chowder and peach blueberry cobbler, and on a budget to boot!

As the year winds down, we’ve been gathering the information and lessons we’ve learned in order to share ideas with others who are interested in using cooking groups as a community building tool. On October 20th, we are hosting a free Collective Cooking Group Facilitator Training and Information Session. Our group leaders and I will share what we have learned throughout the year in our pilot cooking groups, share resources and help you navigate through the initial steps of organizing your own cooking group. We’ll be meeting in one of our partner kitchens, with a chance to prepare a simple dish together. Our brand new Collective Cooking Group Handbooks will also be available to share with participants.

WHEN: Saturday, October 20th 2012, 12-2 pm
WHERE: Trinity Full Gospel Pentecostal Church, 4801 NE 19th Avenue, Portland, OR 97211
Light refreshments provided. Send RSVPs or questions to rell@kitchencommons.net.

There’s still room for more participants, so don’t hesitate to sign up at the last minute if need be. Whether you work with an organization that wants to integrate cooking programs into your work, have access to a kitchen space that can be used by the public, or are simply interested in collective cooking groups, we’d love to meet with you.