Food for Thought

By: Arielle Ortmann

My students are smart.  Every single day they teach me something.  I came into City Year thinking they would gain most of the benefits from working with us, boy, was I wrong.


I started the cooking club at North High School with the same mentality.  I was eager to teach some of our students about healthy eating habits and simple but delicious recipes that they could bring home.  I quickly learned I was dealing with the pros.   Some of my students cook dinner every night for their families, and they love it.  I was able to connect fairly quickly with the clubs members because of all our stories about our families and food.  We started off cooking slowly with fondue and have already jumped to mouth watering stuffed peppers.  This past week we spent what seemed like hours cutting up all kinds of fruit (apples, melon, pineapple, etc.) in pretty and fun floral shapes.  Friday was North’s Spring Carnival and all the neighborhood schools were invited to come enjoy an afternoon of food and games with our students.  The cooking club booth had kids pick their own fruit and make little skewers of ‘floral arrangements,’ it was adorable!

We have been supported by our school and staff an unbelievable amount and were even surprised by brand-new glass, metal and wood cookware a few weeks ago (thank you again to the anonymous donor)!  The students also love giving back by giving out food at school events and sharing the food we make with others who stay after school and we now have some regular ‘eaters’ who always seem to show up at the perfect time.

The cooking club has turned into a great environment to vent about your day/week, share with others your happiness, and simply relax among friends.  I could not have imagined in the beginning the oasis this group has become for me every Thursday afternoon.  We have some big plans for the next upcoming months and I am so excited to see what else the students surprise me with.


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