JLO Kitchen Connections

Nutrition on a Mission: Announcing Kitchen Connections, JLO’s new signature Hunger & Food Access Program

Do you remember back to when you were 19?

On a scale of 1-10, how much did you know about nutrition? How good were you at meal planning, grocery shopping and meal prepping for yourself and others?

If you’re anything like me, your idea of nutrition back then wasn’t exactly science-based. And as for grocery shopping and meal prep? My mom and college dorm handled most of that for me.

But what if you’re just coming out of the foster care system. You’re being expected to be a fully responsible adult for the first time ever, and you don’t have the support network of a family to show you the ropes. How do you learn to navigate a kitchen, prepare healthy foods, and maximize your monthly food budget?

That’s what Kitchen Connections is all about.

Our new signature program, Kitchen Connections, pairs a JLO mentor with a mentee who’s recently aged out of the foster care system. Together, each pair will create healthy cuisine, community, and a love of home cooking.

Each quarter, JLO mentors will pair up with young adults through Project Everlast. Each month, the teams will meet to:

  • Learn a healthy new recipe and nutrition basics
  • Cook together in a safe, fun and friendly environment
  • Share a meal and create community

At the end of each quarter, the young adults participating will receive a complete kitchen kit including:

  • Mini-indoor grill
  • Pots and pans
  • Silverware, plates & cups
  • Knives and cutting boards
  • Food storage
  • Turners, spatulas, cooking spoons
  • Oven mitts
  • Kitchen towels and cloths
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups & spoons

By the end of the 2021-2022 League year, Kitchen Connections mentors will have set up more than 50 young adults with the equipment, skills, and love of cooking they need to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families.

And because most of the young adults who participate have children, JLO volunteers will also provide childcare during Kitchen Connection sessions, removing a critical barrier to participation.

This program is the first of its kind for the League…and one of the first of its kind anywhere! All of us on Community Impact are thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with young community members in such a fun, casual way. Cooking and eating together is one of the most powerful community building tools we have to offer!

Our partner, Project Everlast, has been empowering young adults aging out of the foster system for more than 15 years. By teaching valuable life skills, financial literacy, and providing access to direct services and support, Project Everlast is the Omaha community’s gold standard for how to engage young people in the process to make sure the services provided really meet the need and empower better living.

We’re honored to have such a committed, collaborative partner. And we hope that all of you will reach out to provide mentorship or childcare during Kitchen Connections Cohorts starting in September. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at foodaccess@jlomaha.com.