“I love to cook and I enjoy making new things,” said Stacy, a senior at North-Grand High School in Chicago. Between working at Growing Solutions Farm through the City of Chicago's One Summer Chicago jobs program and leading the Bowl and Kettle Cooking Club through her school, Stacy has found many ways to feed her passion for healthy food this summer.
Stacy is at Growing Solutions Farm, a 1.2-acre produce farm run by Urban Autism Solutions. She and some fellow members of the online cooking club she leads are there to pick up some vegetables for their upcoming “open kitchen” class. The students are walking the rows of vegetables, to see how their food is grown on the farm.
Image (l to r): Stacy and her classmates at Growing Solutions Farm; the Bowl and Kettle Cooking Club visit the farm; Kassandra shows off some carrots.
Stacy has been coming to the farm and attending the Urban Autism Solutions West Side Transition Academy since 2020. The farm and Academy provide a variety of programs to help support young adults with autism and related challenges as they transition from high school to adulthood.
Stacy is a founding member of the Free Snacks Cooking Club at North-Grand High School. “Stacy was so excited about the cooking club! She talked it up so much with her friends and showed them pictures of all the food we made. Eventually, everyone wanted to join so we created a club that was just for the students in Stacy’s class,” said Betsy Zacsek, a teaching artist with CAPE – Chicago Arts Partnership in Education. CAPE is a non-profit that pairs teachers with artists to create original programming in public schools. CAPE artists helped guide the creation of the cooking club at North-Grand.
Stacy named her cooking club “Bowl and Kettle” after her teacher Miss Bowlus and North-Grand social worker Loren Ketelsen. The club launched in March of 2021 and had seven participants from Stacy’s class who met online once a week to cook together from their own kitchens.
“Stacy really led the new cooking class and took a big leadership role in organizing the class, helping pick out recipes and keeping it moving,” said Loren.
Stacy’s many responsibilities in the cooking club include helping with menu planning, checking in on her fellow classmates to remind them that it’s cooking time, organizing supplies on grocery pick-up day, and preparing and teaching her own cooking lessons.
Stacy is already thinking ahead to an upcoming cooking club meeting, where she’ll take on the role of the teacher. “We are going to make ice cream from scratch,” she said. “Blueberry ice cream.”