Hunger in Moose Jaw develops communal cooking skills

Nathan Liewicki
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Caleb Vanin looks on as Kirsten Matthies, community kitchen co-ordinator for Hunger in Moose Jaw, prepares to taste test the Mexican soup recipe participants made Thursday evening.

Kim Hubscher held a knife in her left hand and an avocado in her right hand.

As she cut the fruit into pieces for the Mexican soup recipe she was making, Hubscher was unsure if she was cutting it properly.

“Am I doing it right?” the 30-year-old asked.

Thursday marked the first time Hubscher had ever used avocado to make a meal. It was also the first time she had attended one of Hunger in Moose Jaw’s Community Kitchen classes.

Joined by three other participants, Hubscher learned to cook three different meals with the help of Kirsten Matthies, community kitchen co-ordinator.

“I wanted to learn new recipes – as opposed to eating out more,” Hubscher told the Times-Herald. “When I heard about this program I jumped all over it.”

Hubscher heard about the program through the South Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre (SSILC). One week after she applied to join one of the community kitchen classes, she was making a bundle of food to take home with her.

Two of the other participants – Caleb Vanin and Ryley Wilson – also heard about the community kitchen through SSILC and made their first appearance in the Hunger in Moose Jaw kitchen Thursday.

Wilson, 22, said he has a tendency to forget about items when he is cooking. That has led to burnt food every so often.

“I want to improve my cooking skills, but I hope this class gives confidence to stay focused while I’m cooking,” said Wilson.

Since moving out on his own last year, Wilson said he struggles planning ahead with his cooking. It is something he hopes will improve with an expanded recipe repertoire.

Vanin, 19, who was joined by his mother June, also noted he wants to learn how to cook more.

Although the group was not making some of Vanin’s favourite foods – spaghetti, hamburgers and pizza – he gave two thumbs up when asked about the smell of the Tuskinny chicken recipe wafting through the kitchen.

June, who said cooking with chicken was right up her alley, said it was great to see her son want to learn to expand his cooking horizons.

“I enjoy seeing the joy he gets when he cooks,” she said. “It’s fun and it makes him feel like he has accomplished something.”

One of the primary goals of Thursday’s community kitchen class, according to Matthies, was to teach everyone the importance of cooking in large batches, so food can be frozen and eaten at later dates.

Sharing new recipes with participants is also important, but for Matthies, who has been in her current position for about one year, there is a more important thing when it comes to her role in the community kitchen.

“I love the people I get to meet and the whole community aspect of working together and cooking together,” said Matthies. “Cooking  is empowering for people and I love that.”

Thanks to fundraisers and grants, Hunger in Moose Jaw is generally able to offer two-and-a-half hour community kitchen sessions twice a week.

There is a $5 fee each participant must pay, but for Wilson, Hubscher and Vanin, that fee was covered by SSILC because it was their first time at the community kitchen.

As important as it is to learning more about cooking, the partnership between Hunger in Moose Jaw and SSILC is equally as important.

“I don’t think a lot of people know about this, but it was great,” said Hubscher. “Now I’m going to tell everyone about it.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: South Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre, Times-Herald

Geographic location: Moose Jaw

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