What we do: CardsCook is Portland’s first entirely student led program working to fight hunger in young adults. Over the past two years, students at Lincoln High School have partnered with Portland Public Schools, Oregon Food Bank and Clay Street Table to create meals and classes for the underprivledged youth. The meals we cook are healthy and sustainable creations formed with ingredients donated by the Oregon Food Bank and recipes planned, prepared, and served by high school students. Recently, CardsCook was contacted by a professional chef who owns her own restaurant. She told Cards Cook that she wanted to donate her time to help our students create meals with a balance of health as well as quality of taste, ingredients, and meals which can be produced at a large scale. The classes are provided for free by teachers volunteering after school to provide drawing, writing, and business classes to the people being served. We serve once at least once a week after school at Clay Street Table, a short walk from our school. Since our founding one year ago, around 100 students have donated their time to Cards Cook, and students have cooked around an estimated twenty-five thousand meals.
Recognition: We recently received a several thousand dollar grant from OFB to work on “homeless solutions” for young adults. The leaders of CardsCook were elected class president class treasurer based on their achievements in the community. One of the leaders of CardsCook was granted the right to teach a class to over 20 enrolled students about entrepreneurship. This class teaches kids how to create for-profit and nonprofit companies, several of these include aiding the homeless crisis in our city. He also has a blog called HeyHankNews.com where he writes about homelessness and has interviewed many of the citie’s most influential activists and leaders. His pieces have been published in KGW, KXL, KATU, Basic Rights Oregon, etc.
Future Goals: This is just the starting point. I hope that by the end of this year, we can be in three Portland schools. Unfortunately, this takes money. In order to become the brand that we wish to become, we need advertising: shirts, signs, stickers, whatever is needed to spread awareness about what it is that we do. We believe that every single school has students who are dedicated civic leaders, many just don’t know it yet. We want to allow everyone the right to help, because often times people can and want to help they just don’t know exactly how to. By bringing CardsCook to other schools, we will be inciting change in our youth and helping those less fortunate than us. While we are in the process of receiving a 15 thousand dollar grant from the Arlene Schnitzer Foundation, our goal is to raise an additional 10 thousand by the end of the year.
However, there are things that can be done that don’t require money:
Classes: we always need people to volunteer their time to teach classes, lessons, play music, etc. Homeless don’t only need food, they also need a community which includes being able to enjoy things such as relaxing to jazz music or listening to poetry while they enjoy their meal
Awareness: we need people to talk about us. Just mentioning our cause and what we do to other people is helpful and gets us closer to our goal of ending hunger in youth
To be involved in your solution: whether your solution is to provide affordable housing units or if you run a homeless shelter, we want to be a part of it. We are devoted to this issue. We can help you not only because we have been around and are familiar with the community – we often walk down the streets and stop to shake hands with homeless people we recognize – but also by bringing in the youth demographic. We are the people tasked with taking on the issue in the years to come. You can help us by giving us a seat at the table to see how things are done and be a part of the decision making.
CardsCook has a bright future. We have done cool things and will work with you for the next several years to make sure that the legacy of Portland’s youth is one of civic leaders and engaged citizens. We can end hunger, one meal at a time.