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Three Generations Experience Beecher’s Foundation programming

The Beecher’s Foundation is bringing our food education workshops to hundreds of Lakewood, WA, students and their families this fall and winter. We checked in with one family with a student, parent, and grandparent that experienced our programming and learned about some lasting changes they’ve applied as a result of the workshops.

Madyson Smith is a 4th grader at Lakeview Hope Academy in Lakewood who experienced the Pure Food Kids Workshop for youth in October. Her mom, Kristal Greer, signed up for a Sound Food Uprising workshop at the request of Madyson. Kristal says her daughter brought home a program flyer and told her, “mommy there’s an adult class too, you have to take it!”  

Kristal attended the workshop with her mother Rita Coon, who lives next door. In fact, several generations of Kristal’s family live in the same apartment complex, and now three generations have taken Beecher’s Foundation programming together. Experiencing the workshop as a family unit has given the family a chance to spend time together and learn new skills. Rita liked trying new recipes, and especially loved our Good Garbanzos snack. Kristal’s sister is also planning to enroll.  

Kristal Greer and her daughter Madyson.

In the youth class, Madyson liked learning about knife skills, including how to safely hold a plastic lettuce knife and how to cut veggies using a “bear claw” grip. A vegetable lover, she says the chili her class made during the workshop was “delicious,” even though she was a little unsure how all the ingredients would taste while the group was cooking. After class, she told friends about the workshop. “She came home that day and checked every label in our cabinet,” Greer says, and declared, “none of these breakfast cereals are healthy.” 

“I think that you guys should do (the workshop) all around the world because people usually don’t get exposed to it and they don’t know what they’re eating.”

Kristal knew that she’d be examining labels in the adult workshop, but she didn’t know how much she’d learn about the food she buys and feeds her family. She also tried new foods during the cooking portion of the workshop, including sweet potatoes and fresh fennel.  

As a result of the curriculum, Kristal now looks out for sugar and additives. “I didn’t know we’re only supposed to have 30 grams of added sugar a day until the class,” she said. “20 to 30 grams,” Madyson playfully corrected. Kristal also learned about the Farm Bill. “I didn’t even know it existed, to be honest, until this class,” she said.  

Kristal says she “definitely thinks (the workshop) could help” Lakewood residents, where “a lot of people eat out.” She’s also seen positive changes in Madyson since taking the class. “She’s definitely wanting to help out with dinner more and cook a little bit more. She tries to help with some of the prep.”  

Madyson’s enthusiasm for the workshop is infectious. “I think that you guys should do it all around the world because people usually don’t get exposed to it and they don’t know what they’re eating,” Madyson said. “You guys should move to other places.”  

Madyson practicing the bear claw grip.

The family cooks at home about four days a week was beginning to “go fresher” before the workshop: They receive a weekly milk delivery from Smith Bros. Farm and produce deliveries from Imperfect Produce. But before Beecher’s Foundation workshops, they relied heavily on boxed sides to complete meals. “We’ve cut back on using the boxed, processed side dishes and we go more fresh,” Kristal says.

The extended family sees each other frequently. “Ain’t that the truth!” Madyson’s great-grandmother playfully chimes in from the kitchen. She lives next door and is also interested in taking the adult class, bringing in a fourth generation to the workshop. They sometimes share meals together and plan to gather over the Christmas holiday. This year, the family’s table will be filled with more fresh produce and less boxed sides, thanks to skills learned during Beecher’s Foundation programming.

We’re planning to follow along with the family’s journey over the next several months, stay tuned! For more on our work in the Lakewood community, click here.

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