Raj SandhuBlogs, Newsletters

Recently I had the pleasure of spending some time at Mackenzie School. Mackenzie is a kindergarten through eighth grade program located on the grounds of the former Mackenzie High School. Just as the students of Mackenzie High School were full of surprises, these students did not disappoint. I asked several of the current Mackenzie Stags, what do you want to be when you grow up? While the responses were admirable – doctor, policeman, firefighter, a “Frozen” princess; the most memorable response came from a first grader and kindergartner who happened to be brothers. The elder brother looked at me with the biggest grin and said “a chef”. I smiled and repeated his answer with pure delight. I turned my attention to the little brother standing next to him and posed the same question. His response, after some deep thought, mimicked his brother’s. I truly was excited, not just because I enjoy great food and have an enormous amount of respect for those who possess the extraordinary talent to create it, but because the answers showed an understanding that they could be anything in the world. However, the surprise did not end with the career goal. When asked “what is your favorite thing to cook?” to my astonishment salad was blurted out. Amazing! I was in the midst of two inner-city, African-American males with an appreciation for not only food, but healthy food. We continued to talk about food and cooking and I challenged them that in 15 years I was going to be looking for their names on either their own restaurant or in the newspaper as head chef.

Those Stags encouraged me to continue to work harder to find resources and support for those programs that could help them achieve their goals. Programs such as the Farm to School program which does more than promote urban agriculture, but also puts healthy food in front of students within days of being harvested; and the College and Career Readiness program (formerly known as Career Technical Education) which includes culinary arts and nutrition. I have challenged myself to find ways to advance these programs to ensure my future chefs have the resources to achieve their dreams. Now I challenge you as well, how will you help enhance education?

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