(Photo via facebook.com/sundaysuppers)
You know that adage about teaching a man to fish? Sunday Suppers brings that to life.
The nonprofit, which offers Sunday night cooking classes and related programming to low-income families in Kensington, goes “beyond food access,” said director and founder Linda Samost: “What we’re trying to do is really change behavior.”
Simply providing healthy food to people is often not enough for them to do so. Sunday Suppers’ model is hands-on and shaped by input from the participants themselves.
The free, nine-month program gets results, too: Participants shared family meals an average of 5.7 days per week and ate vegetables an average of 6.1 days per week, compared to 3.5 and 3.1, respectively, at the start of the program.
Now, five years in, Samost wants to reach more families by connecting with likeminded organizations interested in incorporating either elements of the program or the entire program into theirs.
Right now, the nonprofit works out of Memphis Street Academy in Port Richmond. Samost thinks it would work especially well expanding to a healthcare or social service setting so, for instance, if a client is being treated for diabetes, they can be easily referred to Sunday Suppers as a supplement to their medical treatment.
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She’s also in talks with Vetri Community Partnership’s Mobile Teaching Kitchen, the food truck that’s showing up at farmers’ markets and conducting cooking demonstrations.
“It’s something that could be replicated in many places,” said the former chef.
Some graduates are even facilitating some of Sunday Suppers’ programming now, including one mom who went through its weight loss class and is now leading it for the next cohort. Another is leading a Tai Bo class.
Samost’s dream is to have alumni run the entire program someday.
“I’d rather it be peer-to peer-education,” she said. “I think people relate better to people who look like them, talk like them” — people who have been through what they’ve been through.
Other potential changes to the program include an expanded kitchen item donation program and a shortened program cycle. But one thing’s for sure, Samost said:
“We’re ready to expand.”