Our Beach Fresh program is one in which youth, aged 14-24, come to learn useful life skills related to food, health, cooking, and setting up a home kitchen. We look closely at budgeting, how to make foods from scratch and how to eat a balanced diet. We’ve been going strong for over 2 years now with funding provided originally from HSD then secondly by the Department of Neighborhoods. Beach Fresh began in person at our own RBAC kitchen which is located in the basement of our small office building at 9013 Martin Luther King Way S. Our program leader(s) and the young people were able to pack in like sardines to share cooking tasks, prepare a healthy meal, eat together, and discuss topics centered around food and health. Because the kitchen and dining area is small, we were able to have very open discussions in an intimate setting on a host of topics with lots of input from our young program participants.
Like many other organizations that serve youth in an in-person environment, going on lock-down in March 2020, put a damper on our Beach Fresh program. After taking a couple of weeks to plan and plot our stay-at-home course of how to continue the program, we were right back at it! Teaching and learning from home being new to all of us, we trudged through with a few missteps along the way. Righting the course, the program has continued to evolve over time. Being ‘virtual only’ since Spring 2020, we have cooked ‘together at home’, shared recipes and stories about our home life and meals with family, learned to save money by making cleaning products at home, formed new partnerships with local food-related businesses, and neighbors, used freshly harvested produce from RBAC’s own gardens to cook, learned about mind, body, and health from a registered dietician who taught us a 5-week yoga series, played games, sang songs, taken a walk and shared so many laughs we can’t even count up the good times.
These days, since lockdown is virtually (see what I did there?) over, our young people have gone back to school which RBAC supports as priority #1 for them. Beach Fresh is still virtual with plans to continue in this forum for the foreseeable future. We are in the process of working our way through some scheduling kinks. After meeting weekly during the summer months, we currently hold BF sessions every other Thursday at 4:30 pm to accommodate school schedules. Looking ahead, but still keeping healthy eating front and center, we want to focus our lens on our community’s cultural cuisines and how to prepare them with the same traditional tastes in a healthier way. Think of a full-on fried chicken dinner (chicken, potato salad, greens, cornbread, bbq baked beans, mac n’ cheese, etc). Yummy right……now make it healthy! That is what we are going to teach and do in Beach Fresh moving forward. Yes, we are very excited about seeing where we can go with this and how our young people and families take to it. We hope that the program continues in good health (see what I did there? 🙂
Beach Fresh activities are planned in advance by a team which includes Hibo Elmi, Fatima Kabba, and myself. If you are interested in teaching a Beach Fresh session on topics related to health, nutrition, physical mind/body well-being, budgeting related to food, or anything else, please get in touch!
TOMATO JAM – for the last of the harvest
This recipe makes 20 ozs
Ingredient list –
2 lbs grape & cherry work best, but true Beach Fresh fashion is ‘use what you’ve got!)
½ tsp olive oil
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups plus brown sugar
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp minced ginger
1-2 finely small chopped spicy peppers (serrano, thai chili, habanero) seeds removed
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup water
Dice the tomatoes and put them into a heated (add olive oil here), heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes, then add water. Add the rest of the ingredients; bring them together by stirring, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 hr. stirring occasionally. The consistency will not be like jam but should thicken.
*If canning – skim off any foam. Pour hot jam into sterilized half-pint jars, leaving ¼ inch room at the top. Wipe rims of jars with a damp paper towel. Put the canning lids on and process in low boiling water until ready.
*If not canned, this keeps in the refrigerator for 2 weeks in an airtight container.