Community

Skillet 101 classes fill hearts and bellies

Sharon Laberty and her 14-month-old daughter Lily prepare to make breakfast burritos in a skillet. Laberty is taking Gateway of Hope’s free Skillet 101 class. Volunteers and staff keep Lily busy while mom learns to cook easy and affordable meals in a skillet she gets to taken home later. - Monique TAMMINGA/Langley Times
Sharon Laberty and her 14-month-old daughter Lily prepare to make breakfast burritos in a skillet. Laberty is taking Gateway of Hope’s free Skillet 101 class. Volunteers and staff keep Lily busy while mom learns to cook easy and affordable meals in a skillet she gets to taken home later.
— image credit: Monique TAMMINGA/Langley Times

Shepherd’s pie, chili, breakfast burritos, apple crisp and cake are just a few of the many meals that can be made in a skillet.

Surprising, maybe, but extremely practical, affordable and tasty, plus a skillet can be plugged into any wall outlet. This was the thought of Gateway of Hope’s Andrea Voss, a family services case worker who started researching what could be made in a skillet and opened up classes to those in need in the community.

Voss, along with some dedicated volunteers, have been offering Skillet 101 cooking classes for free to people in the community or to those who are accessing the shelter.

Every class has filled up. January’s class is already full.

“It’s a great tool for people on low income who may be in a rooming house and don’t have their own kitchen,” said Rosyln Cassells, who just finished the six weeks of classes on Wednesday. “You can plug in the skillet anywhere.”

Cassells, who is on disability, is a vegan and wasn’t sure the Salvation Army would be able to accommodate her. But Voss did some research and found ways to supply her with tofu and meat alternatives.

Voss says the classes have been filling up since they began a year ago.

“It’s great for people to learn cooking skills. Not only do they accomplish making theses great meals, but they get to take home tons of leftovers too,” said Voss. Canadian Tire Langley donates all the skillets. If a person completes the six weeks, they are allowed to take home the skillet. Ralph’s Market has been supplying all the produce.

For Jaime Pederson, getting a free skillet was her initial reason for joining the class.

“I am just starting all over again so I don’t have any pots or pans,” said Pederson, who is clean and sober and has moved into Langley’s Kinsmen housing.

“A friend of mine who lives in the same housing  took the course and told me about it,” she said.

Pederson said she has taken the food home to her two-year-old daughter who has enjoyed what she made.

“I’ve loved the food and it’s been really nice talking with everyone, finding out about resources in the community. As a single mom, my daughter was welcomed too.”

Voss said she keeps the classes small so it allows everyone to get to know each other and share.

“Our last group became such good friends, it got pretty loud in here,” said Voss. “They asked if they could all continue meeting every week to cook together.”

Sharon Laberty brings her 14-month-old daughter Lily to the classes. Voss puts out a playpen and some toys.

Lily plays or Voss or the other volunteers keep the toddler busy.

“I’m loving it and getting lots out of this class. I will make these recipes again,” said Laberty.

Several of the women found out through conversations that there was a community meal program every day downstairs of the Gateway of Hope. Now many of them have a meal before going to class, Voss said.

Voss ends each class with a devotion.

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