by Brendan Crain, Ariel Diamond and Arline Welty
photos by Ariel Diamond and Brendan Crain

You like your neighborhood. You want to see the local independent businesses that make your neighborhood unique stay and thrive. You want to be able to buy a good banana at 6 am and 6 pm any day of the week. You want to be sure that people of all incomes and ages can live and eat well in your neighborhood. Then you probably want a healthy corner store culture in your neighborhood. But how? (Especially if you're busy or perhaps lazy -- we're in that not so secret society.)

Neighbors Project has drawn on the experience of the Food & Liquor project in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, and similar efforts around the country, to provide you with a range of options for tuning your corner stores into a thriving community asset for everyone in your neighborhood as a series of two Instructables. This one is ...

Level 1: How to Hold a Corner Store Cooking Class.
Coordinate a Corner Store Cooking Class to teach your neighbors (and yourself) how to make healthy, home-cooked meals using ingredients that can be purchased from local, independently-owned shops.

To do this Instructable, you will need:
- At least one corner stores (aka liquor store, bodega, convenience store, fruit market or meat market)
- Some expertise on cooking, or access to people who can provide it
- Paper for flyers and hand outs
- A neighborhood

The people behind the Food & Liquor project are just some of the many people and organizations around the country who have worked on increasing food access in their neighborhoods. Check out the list of groups and resources at the bottom of this page for even more resources and advice.

Step 1: Three Months Before the Class

You should give yourself about three months to put together this cooking class. You could do it in less, but you'll have more fun and stay sane if you give yourself a bit of time.

1. Create a one page description of the event. Be realistic about attendance. Aim for about 30 to 50 people maximum; any larger will be difficult to mange without a lot of help.

2. Meet with local organizations to establish partnerships. This can include your neighborhood association, social service nonprofits and others. Building strong community relationships is the key to hosting successful community events. You can't skip this part! Also, if your cooking skills are minimal or you'd just feel more comfortable with a real expert leading the class, this is the time to find that person. It may be a friend, a chef, an organization or something else. Ariel from the Food & Liquor team is a chef, but the group also worked with Share Our Strength, a national non-profit well known for running cooking classes.

3. Secure location, date and time. Once community organizations, local officials, churches and small business owners (or any mix thereof) are interested, you can identify strong partners and begin planning the actual event; you will need to set a date, find a location and plan a menu. You'll need a place with basic kitchen devices like running water, room to chop and a flame or two.

4. Invite store owners to the event, and ask them to provide some groceries for the event. Communicate clearly with the owner or manager of the store from which you order the ingredients. Expect to purchase at least part of the haul. Here are some tips for talking to store owners:'
  • Buy something. Introduce yourself and your project as you're making a purchase.
  • Be conscious of how the store owner will read you. Be casual, friendly and approachable. Avoid academic jargon (i.e. "food deserts") and proselytizing.
  • Appeal to their to business interests. Pitch the project by describing concrete, tangible benefits for the store owner (increased sales, free publicity, etc.).
  • Request a meeting. You'll want to schedule a sit-down to hammer out details of the order.
  • Leave a project overview sheet. Give them a one-pager to look over on their own time.
Came across this site and would like to share it with other moms &#8211;http://www.bizymoms.com/kids_cooking/index.php<br/>gives kids the opportunity to learn about healthy food habits, helps you teach your children to cook and information on the numerous benefits enjoyed by moms who encourage their kids to cook. Check it out as there are loads of healthy recipes and easy and fun online cooking classes which you could enjoy with the help of your kids.<br/>
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Is it possible to post an instructable with more detail?? Mayhaps ones with a menu, the followup survey sent, how exactly were the participants involved - what did they do on the day of the event? Etc... Thanks!

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More by neighborsproject:How to Increase Produce in Your Local Corner Store How to Hold a Corner Store Cooking Class How to get a tree on your block in San Francisco 
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