Campus of Change

Ending Homelessness in the Fox Valley

Cooking Up Independence

Posted on Oct 27, 2016 by

Volunteer teaches residents how to make easy, delicious meals

The group peers into the cupboard, almost overwhelmed by the possibilities. “OK, what do we want to make today?” says Sarah, COTS volunteer. Voices chime in with different ideas and preferences, and they ultimately decide to make a cold spicy pasta salad with salmon along with a hot pasta salad with tuna. Welcome to the COTS Simple Cooking Class, led by volunteer Sarah Strelow. Sarah’s concept is to help residents understand how to use the ingredients they already have at home to make simple, but delicious, meals.

“I actually have had a lot of my friends tell me to do a cooking/budget class for a while. It just so happened that [there was a speaker from COTS] at my Lions Club meeting, and everything fell into place from there,” explains Sarah.

Each month, the class decides what they are going to make based on the ingredients they already have available to them. The goal is that residents will be able to use these skills once they move into their own home and have to improvise meals after a long day at work. COTS receives generous food donations from the St. Joseph Food Program, along with local food providers. Residents also have access to fresh, organic vegetables from the COTS hoop house, which is maintained by residents with the assistance of Riverview Gardens.

One of the COTS residents in particular feels like he has benefitted from the class.“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve always had issues with improvising with food. But now not only am I making meals for myself, I’m making food for others! I’m always waiting for the day of the class to come, because it’s so much fun! I love that class….it’s making me try new horizons.”