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Take Five with Frank Kneen

Take Five gives readers an inside look at the key initiatives and programs happening in our Clubs and the people that lead them. We look forward to showcasing our team and creating awareness about the impact we are making on youth in Pinellas County and beyond!

Why is the Food program important to the community as a whole?

The Afterschool Meals Program and Summer Food Service Programs are resources that assure that Pinellas County children have access to nutritious meals when school is not in session. Meals are available for children, ages 6 to 18, who are attending a B&G Club or Site.

Along with the community feeding programs, four of our Clubs now have Teen Cooking Clubs, where our teen members can participate in the kitchen learning about foods, and cooking and baking skills.

How is the Food program making an impact on teens?

Having access to nutritious food is one of the most basic needs. If any of these most basic needs is missing or deficient, a child will have difficulty concentrating on learning and other life-activities.

Regarding the Teen Cooking Clubs, with the basic food knowledge all Club Teens become better prepared to help with meals at home. Some Club Teens may take this food experience to help them get jobs in restaurants and food service, and then some may go on to study Culinary Arts and be Chefs and professionals in the Food Service Industry.

Who is the ideal partner for the Food program?

Our caterer could be considered an ideal partner, as they make sure the food is popular along with being nutritious, and they deliver the meals daily. As for the Teen Cooking Clubs, the Kitchen Mentors and the Kitchen Interns are the ideal partners because they interact and share their skills and knowledge with the Teens.

What makes you most excited about the Food program?

The assurance that approximately 400 kids have had supper will not go to bed hungry. Also that we are helping teens learn how to cook; a skill that stays with a person their entire life.

How many youths and families have benefitted from this program?

Approximately 400 kids have an afterschool supper and snack, or 1350 kids have lunch and snack in the summer session. The Teen Cooking Clubs is very hands-on-training with four to six teens in the kitchen at a time. Even though this is a small group, all teens that attend the site have an opportunity to sample the prepared food. The kids participate in a rotation, so considering the four locations, there are approximately 76 teen cooking sessions monthly. Club member families benefit because their children have access to meals at our Clubs and Sites, saving some money in groceries.

What are the short- and long-term goals for this program?

Continue providing meals according to enrollment and grow meal counts with enrollment. We'd love to open additional Sites, providing meals with outside organizations; additional Teen Cooking Clubs; and cultivate curriculum to include non-cooking food preparations and demonstrations at Clubs.

What is one thing you would add to elevate this program?

Create a full-time Chef/Demonstrator position to tour all Clubs and Sites, providing nutrition education and demonstrate food preparation skills.

What are you most looking forward to next year with this program?

The opening of the Ridgecrest Teen Club and implementing the Cooking Club there.

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