On Saturday, June 27th, Millburn based, Mothering With Intention (MWI) kicked off its first “Kids in the Kitchen” community service program for children age 4-7 at Toni’s Kitchen (73 S Fullerton Ave, Montclair). The soup kitchen, which is located inside of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, provides meals and other resources to the community. The kids, with their parents help, were tasked with making one hundred take-home lunches for the guests of Toni’s Kitchen.
With an array of beautiful feathers, assorted markers of every color, sparkly glue, a rainbow of colored pencils and crayons provided by Express Yourself Studios in Maplewood NJ, the children decorated and transformed lunch bags into wonderful works of art with happy faces, shapes, pictures and messages. “What MWI has created is a rewarding experience that promotes creativity, sparks imagination and allows kids to give beautiful, personalized works of art as part of their service to Toni’s Kitchen”, said Express Yourself Studios owner, Simone Anthony-Brown.
After decorationg the lunch bags, they joined Toni’s Kitchen Director, Anne Mernin for a tour of the commercial kitchen, peaked inside the pantry and met the cooks. While comparing the commercial size stoves, sinks, refrigerators and spice racks to ones they might have at home, the most important lesson of the day was understanding why Toni’s Kitchen is so important to the community. The kids ended their day making sandwiches and filling the lunch bags with a drink and dessert.
“Kids in the Kitchen” was inspired by a mother and friend of MWI who introduced the co-founder Andrea Ferguson Peterson to the Kitchen. It became an initiative for the organization after Andrea met a mother who was looking for a community service activity for her young children but was told that her children were too young to understand “service” and that she should wait until they were older.
“What is so special about “Kids in The Kitchen” is that it is a hands-on activity. The kids are in the midst of a working kitchen that is running on a real schedule and they had a little over an hour to complete the activity,” explains MWI Co-Founder, Andrea Ferguson Peterson. Decorating the lunch bags was definitely a big highlight. Knowing that they helped feed one hundred people today is very commendable.” Co-founder, Alyssa Worrell added, “Kids in the Kitchen” is more than just ‘something to do’ on a Saturday morning. Our goal is to provide young children with a community service experience that feels like real work, allows them to use their creativity and equips them to recognize a “need” in their own world.”