Longview woman helping people with learning disabilities learn life skills through cooking

Local News

On the fourth Thursday of every month, you can find a group of people cooking and then enjoying a meal together at Northwood Baptist Church in Longview. The meal is well-earned and the group certainly enjoys eating the hard-earned fruits of their labor. 

“We are teaching people, mostly people with learning differences, how to cook meals,” said Kay Hughes.

Easy and budget friendly, the project, called 5 Loaves and 2 Fish, was birthed out of a real-life situation. It all started when Hughes met a disabled man who was getting $97 a month in food stamps.

“So when I noticed he was struggling, I asked him what he bought with his food money, and he told me all these frozen foods. Those frozen foods weren’t lasting.”

But she had an idea to make his money go farther. 

“I wrote down recipes that were really simple, step-by-step, where he could make these in his kitchen,” said Hughes. “He’d cook a whole month’s worth of dinners for like $60, so he learned how make his money stretch and he’s no longer starving at the end of the month.”

Hughes thought more people could benefit from that kind of help. That’s where Community Healthcore stepped in with a mini grant. 

“We had a group come to us and say we want to do a cooking class, and we want to make it inclusive for individuals with disabilities,” said Patti Brady, the Outreach Coordinator for East Texas Aging & Disability Resource Center. “So that’s how this started, it started over a year ago and it’s been going great.”

Hughes believes the classes can make a big difference. 

“If you have any kind of learning differences, and you don’t grow up with a very supportive family or a very supportive community, you’re not going to thrive,” said Hughes.

She knows this, because she has children who have learning differences. Below is a photo of her and her family she shared with KETK News.

She says people tend to underestimate others if they have learning differences. In the end, they have fewer skills than they should when they are out on their own.

Hughes hopes the class will change that. 

“To see their growth every single month, they have just gotten closer to all of us, and we’ve gotten so much closer to these guys,” said Krissy Jones, a volunteer at the monthly cooking class. 

Brian Harris, one of the participants, says the class is a blessing.

“It’s really helpful to a lot of people,” said Harris.

Plus he tells us he’s a big fan of the food.

Good food and a good life lesson too. 

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