Hannah stirs the taco meat on the stovetop in the Community Transitions classroom

This school year brought some much-needed additions to the Community Transitions (CT) program in Bellingham Public Schools. Thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation, “Tools for Culinary Arts Instruction at Community Transitions,” the CT culinary class now has enough supplies to teach basic cooking skills. With four sections of the class offered and minimal access to the Bellingham High classroom kitchen, the one stove in the CT classroom space didn’t allow for multiple students to try their hand at cooking during cooking class. The program needed multiple cooktops (and skillets) to allow multiple students to cook at the same time.

The grant funded six induction cooktops, as well as other necessary culinary tools, to increase participation and independence in cooking, an important part of Community Transition program. Some of the other grant-funded tools included the skillets, stir fry pots, spatulas, electric food choppers and crock pots needed to expand basic cooking skills. Thirty plus students take the cooking class and the grant proposal stated goal was to “allow every student in culinary class at CT to have access to accessible cooking tool to allow them to be as independent as possible with preparing meals at their instructional level.

According to Liz Madden, a teacher in the program, the Foundation grant for culinary equipment supported the cooking class in important ways. “The culinary equipment that we purchased with the grant from Bellingham Schools Foundation is a game changer for our culinary program at CT,” she explained.

“We currently have four different culinary classes serving more than 30 students and we have operated on minimal kitchen tools and one stove, until now. The addition of single burners and new pots and pans allows us to cook in our own space. With the new equipment students can practice new culinary skills and increase their independence in a kitchen environment.”

With the remaining funds from the grant, Madden told us the program will purchase more frying pans, woks for stir fries, food processors, measuring tools, can openers, and a pressure cooker, as well as “items that [they] don’t even know [they] need yet.”

Madden also shared how excited the CT staff is about their future new space that was funded on the February 2022 bond. “We are so excited about the future space,” she said, “and look forward to being involved in the design process and dreaming up accessible, functional, and inclusive cooking spaces for CT and the community!”

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