How we got started...
Our founder, Allison O'Brien, graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in October 2012. While in school, she completed an externship working with Ceres Project (Marin), a non-profit organizational network benefiting cancer patients in Northern California by providing support in the form of delicious, extraordinarily nutritious meals. Ceres Kitchen is unique in its programming in that almost all volunteer staff are teenagers. Inspired by the amazing concept of educating children in the kitchen and equipped with a vast knowledge of Natural Cooking techniques, Allison returned home to New Jersey.
In November 2012, upon arrival, she and her Board of Directors formed The Garden State Community Kitchen, A NJ Non-Profit Corporation with the intention of improving the lives of local children and families struggling with general food insecurity, obesity, and Type II Diabetes. With the proceeds from a fundraiser thrown in December, the GSCK and its partners launched its first program in May of 2013.
It is the philosophy of our organization that change cannot be expected by focusing on one aspect of "healthy eating". In order to affect sustainable change to one's diet and lifestyle, education on all aspects of food, mind, and body must come together. It is the philosophy of our organization that by creating a "Whole-istic" curriculum, our participants may begin to understand the complexity of food -- where does it come from? How much effort does it take to grow? To prepare? To make taste good? How can we use it efficiently in our bodies? Which Vitamins do we need? Where can we find them? And most importantly, it is the philosophy of our organization that by including children -- no matter what age -- using FUN and hands-on educational techniques, that our lessons may begin to resonate and may be incorporated into the lives of our children more effortlessly.
Check out our photo collages of the programs we have run! Click on the "about us" tab above and choose which program to look at first!
Bauman College Spring 2012 Graduating Class, pictured with Dr. Ed Bauman and Lizette Marx, Natural Chef Instructor.
Ada, Allie's very first student, helping to make granola at just two years old!
The GSCK's freshly built garden in May of 2014, before the start of our 2014 Summer Program.
The Krol children learning how to make health supportive cookies with Chef Allie in 2012.
Team Ceres: Chef Trudy Schafer, Chef Allie, and our awesome teen volunteers with ready-to-go bags of dishes.
Chef Allie, Board Member Carole O'Brien, and student Nyia at Terhune's Peach Festival in 2014.