Independent Living Cooking Classes

ILP1It’s official!

As part of our expanding Outreach Program, hautemealz.com will be partnering with Impact NW’s Independent Living Program to teach an ongoing series of basic home cooking classes for teens coming out of the foster-care system to live on their own. We’ll fund a portion of these classes from our outreach budget (thank you hautemealz subscribers!) and special cooking fundraisers.

We really want to hit the ground running, and build on the class we held last week, with a second and possibly third class in February.

20140130_171443We’re starting from scratch, so our first goal is to equip 10-12 portable cooking stations with a table, syllabus, burners, pans, pots, and various basic cooking implements.

We can’t tell you how excited we are to build a relationship with these amazing kids, while giving them the tools they need to prosper on their own!

Here’s what the program coordinator told us, following the first class:

“You did a fantastic job with the youth, who really benefited from the experience. I saw self confidence grow in individuals who didn’t have any before. They are excited about signing up for future sessions and we could not be more pleased!”


Experts estimate that 45 percent of youth leaving foster care become homeless within a year.

Young people who have spent their lives in foster care often struggle when they leave the system. Impact NW’s Independent Living Program (ILP) helps foster care youth ages 14-21 gain the skills they need to successfully transition out of foster care and into adulthood.  They work with participants to set and reach attainable goals through one-on-one meetings, weekly job readiness classes, and social and skill-building activities and events.

ILP2 Each year, ILP ensures a happy, healthy, independent adulthood for more than 60 vulnerable young adults.

Hautemealz is excited and honored to be a part of this program by hosting this ongoing series of “Kitchen Skills” courses for the youth of the ILP.

ILP4These will not be classes that focus on a career in the culinary arts, but instead it will cover the primary skills and techniques required to plan, shop for, and cook healthy, affordable meals at home, using basic cooking equipment that these young people are likely to have available starting out on their own.

We believe that the ability to cook for oneself is a set of basic skills needed by  everyone, and that the confidence and independence that comes along with these skills will transfer into all other areas of these kids lives. In other words, when they learn that they can cook for themselves, they learn that they can do anything else they want to do in life.

We also want to make sure that Impact Northwest can continue to focus it’s time and resources on the important programs that are already in place, without having to divert monies from those, to our classes. We will have several opportunities in the future for people like yourself to help, including one-time activities, cooking events, and student sponsorships in the program. (There is no cost to the students to participate, nor does hautemealz receive any compensation. Sponsorships would be used for ingredients and materials that each student uses throughout the course of the classes.)

There are three ways you can help us change these kid’s lives for the better: Individual Sponsorships

Please consider sponsoring a student (or two…or ten…) for an entire series of six classes. Total cost per student, per class is around $40.00, so full sponsorship in the program would be just $240.00 per student.

Besides the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping these kids learn life-changing skills, we also want you to know that we’ll be promoting the heck out of each of our sponsors in all of our literature, social media avenues, and live events! Payments will be made to Impact NW specifically for our program. Impact NW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and will provide receipts for these donations.

Equipment/Ingredient Donations

Most of these students will come to their first class with nothing in the way of cooking gear. If your company has branded cooking hardware (measuring spoons, spatulas, knives, aprons, spices, etc.,) we would love to get it into the kid’s hands. We will also have a lot of quizzes and educational games throughout the course, and if you have small cooking-related items that we can add to the prize box, that will be an ongoing need, as well.

One Time Gifts

Every dollar helps, and is greatly appreciated. If you would like to make a donation to our Independent Cooking Program, payments can be made to Impact NW specifically for our program. Impact NW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and can provide receipts for these donations.

Thank you very much for your consideration and generosity. We look forward to partnering with you to inspire our next generation toward a healthier, happier, more independent life!


Perhaps the simplest way to contribute to our outreach programs, on an ongoing basis, is to subscribe to our SimplySmartDinnerPlans service.

Our dinner plans are all about helping busy families get back to the dinner table and share delicious, nutritious meals together, by helping you with the research, planning, and list-making that takes so much time…time that most of us just don’t have.

We create and personally test “real food” recipes for every night of the month, provide an easy-to-follow itemized grocery list for every week of the month, and offer constant support and training through our weekly newsletter, interactive blog, and social media sites…all for just $10.00 a month.

A large portion of this subscription income goes directly towards supporting our outreach programs.

So, you get great recipes for delicious meals, while helping kids learn to cook the same for themselves…that’s what we call a Win-Win!

If you have any questions, please comment below, or contact us at hautemealz@gmail.com

Thank you all!

Chefs Perry, Terry, & Chris SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com


My “Why”…

I was talking to a fellow business person at our Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning about next week’s KOIN6/ Impact NW Toy Drive, and how we are cooking a big Italian dinner for the families and kids that come in for toys on December 14th.

After I told her all about it, she asked me an interesting question. “So, why did you choose to work with the toy drive?”

I’m sure she was expecting me to say that we’re doing it for the kids, or because we feel a ethical or spiritual responsibility to give back (and both of those are true), but they’re not my reason why.”I do it for my Mom,” I told her.It seems that most of the focus during the Christmas season, especially at an event like the toy drive, is all about the kids (and that’s a good thing!), but as a daddy myself, I can’t help but think about the parents, too.

As terrible as it seems, to think of a child waking up on Christmas with nothing from “Santa”, how much more terrible must it be to be that child’s parent?

How crushing and desolating would it be for a mom or dad, already (obviously) in a tough place, to wake up on Christmas morning without a single gift for their child to open?

You see, one December, about thirty-five years ago, my mom and I were in a tough place. Recently divorced, a glitch in the welfare system had temporarily stopped my invalid mom’s meager monthly allotment of food stamps and disability coverage, and we were broke…I mean, living on nothing but boiled potatoes and government cheese, stoney broke. (I know some of you have read this story, bear with me.)

My mother was getting up every morning not knowing what she was going to feed her child that day, of if the power would be turned off that day, or, God forbid, if I’d get sick and need cold medicine, or something.On top of that, Christmas was coming and there was nothing. Nothing.Then, just a couple of days before Christmas, someone, at someplace very like the ImpactNW Toy Drive, gave my mother a small box of toys, a roll of wrapping paper, and some scotch tape.

They weren’t fancy toys. In fact, they weren’t even new toys…but they were something. Something to wrap and put under the tree, something to see her child run out early Christmas morning, laughing and excited, and tear into. What someone gave my mom was a gift far greater that whatever I unwrapped that morning, they gave her a glimmer of hope, a momentary lifting of her flagging self worth, and maybe even a little whisper from above saying, Hey Betty, I haven’t forgotten you guys…

I owe someone for that. To pay-forward what someone did for my mom.

That’s why I do it.

So, I encourage you, whether you want to be a part of what we’re doing with ImpactNW and KOIN6 (and, yeah, I’m gonna hit you up for that in a second), or whether you have a local church or community toy drive, or even if you just know a neighbor or co-worker who’s in a tough place and maybe needs a little whisper from above… pay it forward.


It doesn’t have to be expensive; it doesn’t have to be fancy…believe me, I know.

Now, if you DO want to help us with the ImpactNW Toy Drive, you can use this secure link to make a charitable contribution towards the meal. We’re cooking at the event on Friday for sure, and again on Saturday if we can buy enough groceries. Donations can be made via a PayPal account, or with a credit card (no account required).

I personally guarantee you, every penny we receive will be spent on the meal, and any extra will be donated to ImpactNW to buy additional toys and gifts. If you include your contact information with your donation, ImpactNW would be happy to send you a tax-deductible receipt for your donation, as well.

If you can’t give much, I totally understand, every little bit really does help.

If you can’t give anything financially, I really do understand that too…and ask that you would give the most important gift of all…please pray for the families and children that are in need this season, and ask God how you can help.

He has something for you, trust me.

If you’re local, and would rather donate a new, unwrapped toy, please contact us at hautemealz@gmail.com, and we’ll make a plan to pick that up from you before December 14th, or get you the location of your local drop-off.

Here’s ImpactNW’s Wish List:

FINAL ImpactNW_HolidayStore2012_WishList_v1

Thanks for reading, and please share!

-Chef Perry