by: Grace Lichaa
So I am the new kid on the block… or rather the new kid on the remote block. I started at Common Threads in April 2010 as the Washington, DC Program Manager.
Whenever I tell my friends about my new job, they would always say, “You get to teach kids how to cook and teach them nutrition and culture? Grace, this job was made for you.” I can remember thinking exactly the same thing the minute I walked into the school kitchen where our chef instructor Chef Sam Vick-McGill lead her class of 15 low-income 8-12 year old kids how to chop a pepper for Thai curry. I saw kids learning to use knives and learning the difference between mint and basil. What I was really seeing was kids wanting to succeed and learning to make healthy decisions in their food habits because they have never tasted or even smelled these herbs and never given that opportunity.
The best part about working at Common Threads is that it doesn’t feel like work at all. Every time I go to class I feel like I am at recess except that we all practice knife skills instead of kickball. Along with assisting in the kitchen, I reach out to community members, work with schools, organize volunteers, and talk to people who are as excited as me about our mission of promoting cultural acceptance, nutrition.
Blocks from where billons are being spent and some of the most powerful people in the country make decisions, Chef Sam, our amazing volunteers, and I hang out in a cafeteria with 15 students learning about Japanese culture and how to roll sushi. We are here putting into action and spreading the knowledge that the First Lady finds so important. We are doing our small part in increasing food security for these kids and giving them the skills to make better nutritional decisions. We are Common Threads and we are moving our future leaders in the right direction providing safe spaces, important skills, and knowledge to our students.
As I leave the kitchen I see Thomasin, the after-school coordinator, who has been an avid supporter of our program. She tells me that Eric was reluctant to walk out the door on the last class…. Man, I’m going to miss this cooking class. I totally understand him, it’s the feeling you get when recess ends.