Chef Nichole Mooney, the founder of Black Girls Cook, was inspired to start the organization after volunteering with an organization that hosted “Feed The Community” events in low-income communities in NYC. She received a small grant to pilot a 6-week healthy cooking program for girls in the South Bronx, which led to the establishment of Black Girls Cook. Chef Nichole’s childhood experiences with health issues in her family, such as obesity and diabetes, motivated her to teach black girls how to prepare healthy versions of their favorite meals, grow their own food, and promote optimal health.
Black Girls Cook offers various programs and services to adolescent girls in Baltimore and Miami. A certified female chef of color teaches their culinary program, and the girls also participate in life-skills workshops led by female professionals of color. The organization’s Edible Gardening Program helps girls understand the origins of their food and teaches sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. Additionally, the Kitchen Sink Beauty program teaches girls how to create skin and beauty care products using ingredients found in their kitchens, incorporating entrepreneurial classes for personal gain.
Culinary arts and urban farming play a vital role in empowering and inspiring young girls in inner-city areas. Through these activities, girls develop a better relationship with food, reduce the risk of health issues in adulthood, and actively participate in preparing fresh foods while learning about nutrition.
Black Girls Cook has seen success stories and testimonials from girls who have participated in their programs. For example, Aaliyah B. discovered her passion for cooking through Black Girls Cook, learned basic techniques, and gained confidence in her skills. She is now a high school senior graduating with culinary arts credentials, a culinary education instructor at BGC, and has secured her first culinary job. Many girls credit Black Girls Cook for shaping their cooking abilities and express gratitude for being part of the program.
The organization involves the local community by partnering with other nonprofits serving young girls and companies owned by women of color. They also offer volunteer opportunities for community members to get involved in their work.
Running a non-profit organization has its challenges, including securing consistent funding and finding affordable kitchen and space for programs. Black Girls Cook has overcome these challenges by seeking diverse funding sources and adapting to changing priorities. They have also expanded their programs from two 6-week cohorts per year to year-round operations, launched a beauty-focused entrepreneurship program, and introduced merchandise such as cooking spices and a branded cutting board.
The impact of Black Girls Cook is measured by the number of girls who finish their programs with a better understanding of food, and the organization has helped over 300 girls and their families live healthier lives. They have served cultural meals, hosted cohorts, and grown edible plants. About 90% of participants complete the program with the ability to prepare home-cooked meals every week, and many pursue careers in culinary arts.
Currently, Black Girls Cook is focused on creating more opportunities for girls through boot camps and pop-up events. They are expanding their programs in Miami and planning to spread to other cities in the future.
To support the work of Black Girls Cook, people can volunteer as assistants, sponsor sessions, or donate money or products for classes like groceries. More information can be found on their website.
The future of Black Girls Cook envisions a world where girls live healthier lives, develop healthy relationships with food, understand the origins of their food, and have the skills to grow and prepare their own food.
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