We are an organization that was founded 48 years ago by the community coming together around food and those roots still run deep within us today. Giving back to and taking part in our communities is a part of who we are at the Grain Train. When you choose to spend your dollars at our stores or at the cafe, you are putting those dollars back into the community. That is part of what being a natural foods cooperative is, our profit goes back to our member/owners, is invested in staff, is used to improve the stores and cafe and, last but certainly not least, goes out to enrich the community in numerous ways.
As we go into the time of Thanksgiving, we wanted to share a story that has our mission, Making A Difference One Bite At A Time, right at the heart of it. We are truly grateful and honored to be a part of this story.
Chef Jon Kirk wanted to find a way to “introduce students to a home style kitchen through fun cooking activities.” The main idea was to give the kids kitchen experience. He started asking around for how to get it started and was connected with Susan McCloskey of the Rambler Wellness program. Through his partnership with Rambler Wellness with support from Fustini’s, FreshBaby and the Grain Train, the Rambler Wellness Cooking Activity Club for Boyne City Middle School students was born in 2018.
When Jon reached out to us again this year to see if we would cover the expenses of the ingredients for the club, we asked what made him want to partner with the Grain Train. He said that, “It gives students exposure to the healthier, organic choices that the Grain Train offers. The Grain Train’s products stimulate conversation about certified organic, sustainable farming, and healthier choices.” We loved that answer! It is our mission in motion without a doubt! We are excited to be supporting this program again in 2019.
There have been 50 children through the program to date and this year they have been up to some seriously tasty-looking cooking. Earlier this month each students made their own pepperoni pita pizzas. They also learned about avocados, cooking eggs, making smoothies, and cleaning up after themselves. The recipes for the Egg and Avocado Toast and the Green Smoothie came from Cheryl Tallman’s book, I 💓 Vegetables. Cheryl is the founder of FreshBaby and is from Petoskey.
Last week the club made two FreshBaby recipes from their vegetable cookbook using Grain Train ingredients. They learned all about using an electric griddle while making Pumpkin Pancakes. They also explored making an egg dish by creating a Broccoli Egg Bake, another FreshBaby recipe. Other recipes they made in the past include pizza casserole, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, chocolate truffles, bread pudding (one of Jon’s recipes featured in a March 2018 issue of Northern Express), and sweet and savory puff pastries. We sure love to see those smiling faces and youthful hands forming a lasting relationship with cooking and food.
We will keep sharing the story of what Jon and the kids are up to in the kitchen via Facebook, so if you don’t follow us there, please do! We want to extend our gratitude to Chef Jon Kirk for donating his time and being the driving force in this program. It warms our hearts to see what the kids are cooking up each week. Keep an eye out in the community for more Cooking Activity Clubs. You may have heard about his classes at a Local Food Alliance meeting or with the Girl Scouts Badge classes. Keep up the good work, Jon!
From all of us at the Grain Train we wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. We are open regular hours through Wednesday the 27th, are closed Thanksgiving Day, and open regular hours on Friday the 29th. Duerksen Turkeys and the Deli’s Maple Pumpkin Pie pick up will be Tuesday, November 26th and Wednesday, November 27th. We are stocked up with all your holiday staples plus so much more. Stop by and see us at the stores and don’t forget to grab lunch at the Cafe while you are downtown!