How did it all start? I had already been teaching vegan family cooking classes at my local public library and the high school was across the street so I decided to walk into the administration offices and started asking questions about the possibility of offering a new after-school program for students. The school secretary and vice principal where helpful in answering my questions. Is there funding for after-school programs? Who is in charge? I introduced myself, Liz Gary, PLHS class of ’80 and plant-based foods instructor at the neighboring Point Loma Library. It was easy from there, school administrators got me connected with the decision makers and just a few short weeks later we were leading our first-ever weekly vegan cooking club meetings. Since then the word of the success of our program has spread and now there are vegan clubs meeting every day of the week at several campus locations in San Diego. Students in the Vegan Club participate in activities including culinary labs, lunch-hour outreach events, field trips, the production of a school vegan club cookbook, and much more.
The Vegan Cooking Club teaches students to become informed consumers. Participants get to experience and sample new food products, participate in culinary labs that help build skills, and participate in engaging conversations that promote critical thinking around the advantages and disadvantages associated with our food choices. The first Vegan Cooking Clubs have been supported by the ARC Experience after school programs with additional special grant funding and sponsorship from the VegFund, the Animal Rescue and Protection League, and local grocers
Jensen’s Foods , Northgate Gonzalez Markets, and Sprout’s Farmer’s Market Chula Vista.
A VegClubNews newsletter is under development to share ideas, recipes, product information and highlights from student clubs at participating schools and community programs. Training is available for interested Vegan Club Leaders. Schools and libraries are hiring now! A guide to leading a Vegan Cooking Club will be available soon from New Options Food Group.