KitchenKids promotes learning skills in the world’s original classroom
Personal setbacks spur business idea
BY CANDY WAYLOCK firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Saunders and Marquita Olive have taken the basket of lemons that life has handed them and planted the seeds to help others. Along the way, they’ve learned the lessons of resiliency, humility, giving back and making a difference in their communities.
As owners/founders of
KitchenKids, the duo has created a program that teaches children about cooking,
while instilling a
foundation of reading, math and other skills they need to be successful. The support they receive from North Fulton Community Charities, of which they are also clients, has provided a platform for their message, which has spread globally. KitchenKids is built upon the concept that the kitchen has always been the original play and learning center. Key to the program is an interactive website where kids can learn life management skills and explore
science, math and logic,
geography, history, new languages and other cultures. Although
KitchenKids is a
relatively new company, Saunders had been mulling over the concept of KitchenKids for years. It started with a storm that hit in July 2004 that left her stranded with 19 unexpected guests, including Olive and her daughter. As Saunders tried to pull something together for a meal for the masses, she found seven kids under 11 who all wanted to help out. “To end the children’s argument
over who was going to help me cook, I gave each child an important age- appropriate task,” said Saunders. “As I watched the kids work together,
it dawned on me that they were learning how to follow directions, how to work cooperatively, measuring, reading and discussing the nutritional value and the geographic origin of the different dishes we were preparing.”
Olive remembers that day, and recalls Saunders describing her vision of what would eventually become KitchenKids.
“Leslie turned toward me and
said, ‘I would love to see a television show where kids could cook and learn about different cultures, geography, history, math, languages, teamwork, etc.,’” recalled Olive. Little did Saunders know that her best friend was writing down that dream, and soon sent out an email to friends and colleagues introducing them to the KitchenKids idea. The group met in Roswell a few weeks later, and the project soon became a reality.
“It was just that effortless and
just that divine,” said Olive. “And despite the few who thought it was a delusion, KitchenKids is now a tangible commodity -- and even the
We call this recipe “Dis and Dat” because the first time we made it we didn’t have much money and needed something healthy and filling. We used what our Southern ancestors used to call “a little bit of dis and a little bit of dat” – food we had on hand. What we created was so delicious that it has become a meal requested by kids and adults! It’s easy to make and takes about 15 minutes.
1 pound of ground turkey or beef 1 medium diced onion 1 can of diced tomatoes
6 | northsidewoman.com
1 can of green beans 1 can of black beans 1 can of corn
3 Tbsp. of minced garlic 1 tsp. of black pepper 1 tsp. of salt
2 Tbsp. of cooking oil
Directions: Brown meat in heated oil. Add
onions and garlic while meat is browning. Add vegetables including juices, salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to add additional vegetables if you have some handy! Simmer mixture for 10 minutes. Serve over rice, pasta or grits.
Marquita Olive, left, and Leslie Saunders of KitchenKids host a cooking demonstration at North Fulton Community Charities using low-cost food items.
USDA is now a part of our delusion!” While the television show is still a dream, the program has expanded to
include videos, school-based
resources and the interactive website with thousands of members. The mission of KitchenKids has focused on helping parents, educators and communities grow kids into physically healthy and emotionally intelligent adults who will in turn think frugal, think inclusion, think humanitarian and pay it forward, said the founders. The quest for funding to grow and expand has been a difficult journey for Saunders and Olive.
“When we first embarked on this mission, we were employed and had
See 'SHE'RO, Page 38 How you can help
KitchenKids ♥ Support the Global Tasting Adventures Program, which helps families understand how people are all more alike than different.Th
e intercultural networking program allows families to experience the culinary traditions of a different culture each month. Passports have been designed allowing kids to track nutritional, geographic and historic facts and insights into each culture they experience.
♥ Buy a membership. The annual cost of a KitchenKids membership is $5 per child – which breaks down to less than 42 cents a month. Olive said people are always amazed when they realize all that a child gets for such a minimal fee. But so many of the kids who could benefit from the program come from homes where parents are already struggling to make ends meet. They can’t afford any extracurricular activities, camp, tutoring and/or language lessons, and an additional $5 may be out of the question.
♥ Make a donation. Olive and Saunders still struggle financially to keep KitchenKids viable and are grateful for any assistance. KitchenKids is currently a nonprofit organization registered in Georgia, but funds are being raised to file as a 501(c)3 organization. This would allow the company to accept tax deductible donations and apply for grants.
♥ For more information on KitchenKids, visit
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