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Community Engagement Through Cooking

Thank you to everyone who supported community Engagement through Cooking.

Darrel W. Hess. Ombudsman

Over the past two decades as Anchorage has become more diverse and multicultural, our community has struggled with breaking down cultural, ethnic and religious barriers. While segregation is no longer legal, social self-segregation is something that many communities face. Human beings tend to associate with those who look and sound like they do. How can Anchorage overcome these natural human tendencies?

Over the past few months, I have participated in a simple, yet brilliant program that effectively breaks down these societal barriers. Keys to Life’s “Community Engagement Through Cooking” brings persons from different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds together around food, the great human unifier. Members of a cultural community are invited to share their food and culture, including a cooking class, culminating in a family-style dinner. To-date, the dinners have featured Gambian, Persian and Samoan cuisine and culture.

I personally have made many new friends, learned about other cultures, histories and experiences, and made connections that will result in positive outcomes for individuals and groups in our community, both through my position with the Municipality of Anchorage, and as a member of the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission. Story-sharing, food, friendship and connections; what better way to build community and understanding.

A young women’s perspective for the Community Gambian Cooking Class

The African community dinner was a very delicious and educational experience. We had a five course meal with two kinds of chicken, fish, two salads, rice and meat pockets. Before the dinner, Shirley talked about different countries in Africa and talked about Keys to Life that put on a cultural summer program and also made this possible.

The food was amazing!! The food was the best food I’ve eaten in my life and I gladly ate all of it, even without encouragement from my mother. My favorite was the salad with potatoes, eggs, lettuce and tomatoes. The food was cooked and was served by a group of thirty-five people who were in a class also put on by Keys to Life. The crowd felt excited and happy to participate in a culturally diverse community dinner. I got to meet two refugees from Africa that had come from East High and had participated in a Cultural Summit also put on by Keys to Life. It was a wonderful experience and I would encourage others to go to the next community dinners put on by this fabulous program!

Photo Gallery

African cooking with Ida Mboge

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Persian cooking with Parisa and O’Mead Rahmanian

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Samoan cooking with Lucy Hansen

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Keys to Life
200 W. 34th Ave. #902
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

Phone: 907-561-9471


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