Our school has immigrant and refugee families from places like Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Kenya, the Pacific islands, Mexico and Central America. We have many disparate parent groups at my school, and we wanted to create a sense of cohesive community. My family is Italian, and all our fun family traditions growing up centered around food. I thought a Culturally Inclusive Cooking Club would be a simple and effective way to break down barriers: Who doesn’t like to eat? Just get people together. In our Culturally Inclusive Cooking Club, parents take turns teaching the group how to cook a meal from their home cultures.
The Teaching Tolerance Educator Grant allowed us to hand each parent participant a $50 gift card so they could go to the grocery store and purchase the ingredients they need to teach their class.
The Culturally Inclusive Cooking Club helps foster a sense of belonging for parents who may feel uncomfortable walking into the school building or asking for help. We want to make this school a welcoming, fun place where families want to be.
Marshall is the community schools program coordinator with the nonprofit Metropolitan Family Service in Portland, Oregon. She also facilitates family and community engagement in Portland Public Schools.