Common Threads DC

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 Chef Sam lead her class. I saw 15 kids entranced with Chef Sam as she talked about the way to clean a shrimp 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.
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 four-square. Along with kitchen time, I reach out to community members and talk to people who are as excited as me about our mission of promoting cultural acceptance, nutrition through an after-school program teaching cooking.
DC is an interesting place, I would say that I am a native but that isn’t entirely true. I grew up in the area (meaning a Maryland suburb) and was always close enough to have my finger on the pulse of the city. I watched the restaurant scene go from meager and measly to magnificent and mouthwatering. I have watched Congress go from Democrat to Republican and back to Democrat but one thing has remained unchanged- food security in our nation’s capital has remained miserable.
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 doing our small part in increasing food security for these kids and giving them the skills to make better nutritional decisions.
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.