Common Threads, Cooking Skills & World Cuisine

by Common Threads
Jul 3, 2013

School's Out! Common Threads' Cooking Classes Made the Grade

US Surgeon General visits classes
US Surgeon General visits classes

Common Threads has just ended another successful school year of providing our cooking and nutrition classes at sites in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Palo Alto and Washington DC - we are up to 53 sites and counting! 

Evaluation data collected from child and parent surveys throughout the year is being entered and tallied and we will be able to share just how successful our outcomes were very soon.  Until then, here are some wonderful quotes from individuals about how they grade Common Threads’ classes:

“I like Common Threads because I like learning to cook meals from different countries while also learning about the culture of those countries.  Some of the dishes that I learned to make are from Mexico, India, Korea, and many more.  Common Threads is a very good program that taught me many skills such as: chopping, cooking healthy meals, manners when attending a nice restaurant, and helping the community.  The people there are very nice.  Whenever I had difficulty with cooking, chopping vegetables or meat, the assistant chefs are always willing to help. One of the most exciting experiences was to meet chefs from around Chicago. It has been a great experience for me! Common Threads has given me the skills to help cook at home and make better decisions of which ingredients I choose to make a delicious and healthy meal.”

Common Threads’ student, age 11


“Starla LOVED everything about Common Threads, her counselors, the staff, and the chefs.  Every time she came home she was so excited and she would tell me about what she cooked and the trips were amazing.  She would show me her new dance or yoga moves…She loves helping me in the kitchen and telling me about different cultures.  She is my little chef.”

Parent of Common Threads’ student

"Every week it is a struggle to get kids interested in learning.  No matter what programs we run, arts, math, sports, there are always kids who are just not interested.  But your program is amazing.  Even kids who, for every other hour of every week, hate being here and can't stand school, they love Common Threads and they can't wait for those two hours of cooking."

Teacher at Common Threads’ partner school

New beginning February 2013 is our Full Year Program which was piloted in 29 schools in Chicago and 18 schools in Miami.  This new program takes Common Threads inside the classroom for the first time - we are now in-school curriculum providers, having evolved our after-school programming.  The Full Year Program engages children and parents for a longer period of time to create a lasting impact on their behaviors and practices around food and healthy living.

The Full Year Program will begin again in September 2013 and run through August of 2014, offering the following classes throughout the year: 

  • Cooking Skills & World Cuisine - our original class which teaches children how to prepare and cook nutritious meals via world cuisines
  • Family Cooking - children and parents cook and learn about nutrition together
  • Parent Night - parents are offered a detailed overview of Common Threads' programs
  • Small Bites - new in 2013; taught by classroom teachers; lessons are mapped to the Common Core Standards in Math and English
  • Garden Class - teaches children how to maintain and harvest from the garden
  • Summer Camp.- three weeks of fun with food, fitness and field trips  

As with all Common Threads’ programs, chef instructors, classroom teachers and volunteers are trained by us in how to teach our curriculums.  And the fun factor is still alive and well - children wear chef hats, aprons and learn about cooking and nutrition in commercial kitchens using grown-up equipment and tools.  A healthy meal or snack is prepared during each lesson and the children share and consume the nutritious dishes they have created.

As this is written, Common Threads’ staff in Chicago and Miami is busily preparing for Summer Camp which begins on Monday, July 15th in Chicago and Monday, July 29th in Miami.  This camp will teach children about nutrition, cooking, and physical fitness and provide a safe haven for over 200 underserved 8 to 12 year olds. Students will unlock their potential in the kitchen and gain the knowledge and skills they need to lead healthy lives both inside and outside of the kitchen.                              

Every day for three weeks students will travel the globe by preparing healthy dishes from around the world.  Campers will spend time learning and practicing physical activity and exploring kitchen science with hands-on experiments in the Common Threads’ laboratory.  The camp will culminate with a student cooking competition judged by local Chicago chefs and a pop-up grocery store allowing students to practice healthy grocery shopping as they select fresh produce to bring home.

Stay tuned for a Summer Camp wrap-up report is a few weeks.  Until then, live well!

Thank you to all who have donated to Common Threads’ programs on this GlobalGiving site!  We appreciate your interest in helping children in underserved communities access quality foods and learn nutritional practices and home-cooking skills that will help them live healthier now and into the future.

Gail Simmons lends a hand
Gail Simmons lends a hand
How to saute your vegetables...
How to saute your vegetables...
Preparing a garden salad in the garden
Preparing a garden salad in the garden

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Organization Information

Common Threads

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Kristen Baxter
Development Assistant
Chicago, IL United States

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