One of the most compelling, desperately needed and satisfying programs that the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter has been involved in is TOT’S Kitchen and More.
Four years ago, the ACF Atlanta Chapter was introduced to instructor Marie Johnson, who understood from very personal experiences what it meant to be a child growing up hungry. Raised in a very poor family in Jamaica, Marie often wondered where her next meal would come from. After moving to Atlanta as an adult, Marie began to see children who were nutritionally at risk. From her unbelievably big heart and pure love of children, TOT’s Kitchen and More began.
With little to no backing, Marie began going into schools teaching children about food and giving them a chance to have hands-on experience with food preparation. A long-time ACF Atlanta chef member brought Marie’s program and needs before the chapter’s Board of Directors. Seeing the value in what Marie was trying to accomplish, the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter began helping TOT’s Kitchen financially and hands-on in the classroom with Marie.
A year and a half ago, a new need arose. Teachers noticed children came to school on Mondays hurrying to the breakfast line. Upon investigation it was found out that these children virtually had nothing to eat all weekend. Out of this was birthed the Snackpack Program. Bags are filled with nutritious food and snacks and sent home with children on Fridays after school to those who qualify for the truly heartfelt program. The program started with 72 children and is now sending more than 200 Snackpacks home each weekend.
Throughout the summer, chefs and students from the chapter began signing up for the newest leg to the program. Last September, chef and student teams took over one of Marie’s schools in south Atlanta. Going in on Tuesdays, the teams teach the nutrition class, thus giving Marie the opportunity to add another school to her ever-growing program reaching even more nutritionally at-risk children.
Due to generous donations from partners, suppliers and chef members, the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter has been able to raise thousands of dollars to help educate and feed Atlanta’s seriously needy children. Plans are in place to keep this program moving forward and growing and to give much-needed continued support to Marie & TOT’S Kitchen.