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A member of the Culinary Crew at work in the Wayside kitchen.
 
 
From left, Oumalkaire Omar, Adam Taddia, Eduardo Bintabara.
 
Each Tuesday this fall a group of enthusiastic teens has gathered at Wayside to prepare meals that are delivered to Portland seniors. In addition to helping vulnerable members of our communities, these students have learned leadership, communication and teamwork.
 
Culinary Crew is a 10-week Cultivating Community program that brings local high school students to Wayside’s kitchen. After checking in with Anna Sommo, Youth Programs Manager, the students take to the kitchen, where they learn the art of cooking, how to work as a team and the satisfaction of helping others, in this case seniors living at Franklin Towers, North School and Kennedy Park.
 
"Is so nice to be able to open up our kitchen to this group," says Carly Milkowski, Wayside's resource coordinator. "The mission aligns really closely with our Wayside mission, and it's really fun to see them cooking. They have great energy and are doing good work."
 
We recently spoke with three students about why they got involved and what they have gotten out of the program.
 
Oumalkaire Omar, a sophomore at Casco Bay High School: “I heard about the program from other kids at school, and I thought it sounded cool. I like learning the new recipes and having fun. One of the challenges was learning to cut raw chickens up into parts. That was hard – there were all these little parts. The best part is that it’s a great feeling to hear that our food is helping people. The people we are bringing food to are telling their friends about the great food."
 
Adam Taddia, a freshman at Baxter Academy: “I like to cook, and it seemed like good, honest work. The people really like the food and really loved it when we also brought them fresh flowers that had been given to Wayside."
 
Eduardo Bintabara, a junior at Portland High School: “It’s about having fun. I really enjoyed learning how to make the lasagna and getting to know everyone. I’ve been surprised how much everyone really likes the food and how much they appreciate it.”