Kansas City nonprofit teaches the young how to prepare healthy meals, learn life skills

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City nonprofit A Kid and a Kitchen is helping area youths learn about cooking, eating and healthy living.

The group was established in July by chefs Adell Kirkwood III and Jayaun Smith. Before embarking on their nonprofit venture, the pair experimented with paid cooking classes for adults and children, but it didn’t go as planned. Kirkwood and Smith were motivated to start their own operation after exploring other nonprofits.

A Kid and a Kitchen offers a two-month course for kids to learn how to cook healthy meals, all for the small price of $5. Participants are expected to attend two times per month. Teamwork is employed, as the chefs create pairings for two age ranges, 9-14 and 15-18.

In the first class of the year, students learned to make low-carb pizza and tortillas with homemade low-salt sauces and fresh ingredients. The second phase of the program focused on teaching students to make low-calorie, low-fat alfredo sauce from scratch.

“We want to let them know, ‘Hey, there are healthier options for you.’ You might have these items in the kitchen that can be healthier for yourself and your family,” Kirkwood tells The Heartlander.

The class has been provided with fresh foods for cooking by Cultivate KC. Kirkwood says his students also gain knowledge about the origins and country of each food item. Students also improve literacy skills by reading ingredients and cooking instructions aloud.

Attendees also are taught how to handle knives and a stove.

Smith is the head instructor, with Kirkwood assisting each group in making preparations. The team intends to recruit additional chefs from all over the city. Teachers from the community also have volunteered to help develop the curriculum.

“We depend on volunteers to help keep us moving,” Kirkwood says. “We’re also allowing the kids to come back after they do the course to volunteer in the kitchen to help clean up for other classes, so they get that continuous involvement.”

Kirkwood has been filming portions of class to post on social media and calls it “A Kid and a Kitchen” TV. The plan is to show the public what the program is all about. Instructors use a microphone to interview students about their favorite aspects of the classes, or suggestions for improvement.

“I think my smile is bigger than theirs when they complete (the course),” he says. “When you have a dream and a vision of something, to see it come to fruition and see the enjoyment on their faces is just amazing. You know how kids are; they can be real shy, especially when they’re around people they don’t know. But by the end of the class, everyone is joking and having fun and we have some music playing in the background. We like to bring a great energy.”

The parental feedback has been exceptional, as well.

Kirkwood emphasizes the group’s need for donations, sponsorships and increased community support to ensure the program continues. Anyone interested in signing up to volunteer or joining the class can visit the website

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