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It’s great to have food to eat, but it’s even better to get nutritious food and know how to prepare it yourself. The cooking classes we’re providing for a few teens typify the direction of much of my efforts the past year, working to build on the tiny emergency support for food and shelter, to address other more complicated areas of well being. For example, many of the teens in the families we support are not only old enough to clearly remember their families’ traumatic experiences, they’re often also responsible for caring for their younger siblings. The weight of those responsibilities coupled with being outcasts in school (or having no opportunity to study at all), usually mean these kids are the most withdrawn and vulnerable members of the family.

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One outlet we’re piloting with a few of the teens is a special cooking class. I’ve hired teachers to come in and teach a fun class for the teens, who often light up when they’re in the kitchen. Cooking is an activity where they aren’t overshadowed by a parade of their cute younger siblings and they can be proud of what they learn, sharing kitchen tips with other family members and helping their parents to prepare meals.

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What’s on your plate matters and besides food’s cultural significance, it’s one the quickest ways to improve a family’s quality of living. And I confess, it’s also one of my favorite topics. So I’m jumping around and speaking in a few places specifically to talk about our journey from helping families recover from poor nutrition to being able to participate in cooking classes. My goal is to use the all important feasting holidays to ask more people to support our work by donating what they would normally spend on a nice meal each month to help a needier family eat (click here for the donate page).

Besides donations, here’s a few other ways to help this holiday season:

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  • First off, thank you to everyone who’s taken interest in our volunteer pre-school. We have a great group of volunteers and are proud to announce expanding to a third day. This would have been impossible without people helping us fundraise enough money to provide an additional 120 meals a month and teaching materials for kids in the community every month. This project will only continue to expand in 2014 with your support and we’re still recruiting a few more long term volunteers for those interested.fresh roots fresh giving
  • The Freshest Roots SEA to S.E.A. donation drive is reaching from Seattle to South East Asia by collecting donations at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and even at their community open mic events. That’s everything from clothing to books to cash. Visit their facebook page if you’re interested and in the area.
  • Not only am I speaking about using food to create social change this week, we’re also hosting our charity food fest again to start thanksgiving week off eating well and giving big. The money we raise is not only helping provide food and shelter, it helps us fund our cooking classes and special activities. Click here for the facebook invite with more details if you’re based in Bangkok.
  • If you’re elsewhere and want to help, don’t forget the Lit Coffee website has finally launched. You can buy specialty coffee online and sign up for one of their subscriptions (hint: ask your local coffee shop to do the same). Visit getlitcoffee.com for more info and check out their ‘house blend‘ coffee which will actually help us provide housing!

I’m working hard to finish the year strong and share our work with more people. My goal is to double the number of people we have donating the cost of a meal each month. Wish me luck!