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Kids Feeding Kids inspired by Shawnee Mission students


Michael Mohr, 18, scoops poached chicken out of a pot to add to the chicken pot pie filling. Mohr was working at the Broadmoor Bistro kitchen as part of the Kids Feeding Kids program, a partnership with Pete’s Garden.

Special to The Star

The holiday spirit smells a lot like chicken pot pie at the Broadmoor Bistro. Shawnee Mission students in the culinary arts and hospitality signature program recently focused their talents toward making meals for district families.

The Kids Feeding Kids program is a partnership with Pete’s Garden, a non-profit that usually centers its efforts on redirecting excess food to those in need. The program, funded by a grant from the 15 and the Mahomies Foundation, has a different focus.

Last year, when COVID shut down the caterers and restaurants Pete’s Garden normally works with, they had to get creative.

“Food waste is how we get food on dinner tables. I starting thinking about other ways we could do that,” said Tamara Weber, founder and executive director of Pete’s Garden.

She worked with several groups on meals, including Overland Park’s Culinary Center of Kansas City. A member of her board tipped her off about Broadmoor, and that’s where the idea for Kids Feeding Kids got started.

It’s a pilot for what Weber hopes will become a regular feature in the metro, combining her organization with various culinary arts programs.

Broadmoor’s students made 250 chicken pot pies, each estimated to feed four people, which Weber combined with Caesar salad kits from Hy-Vee.

“Hopefully 250 families in the Shawnee Mission School District don’t have to worry about cooking or grocery shopping or cleaning up. (It gives) these families extra time to spend together … over a shared healthy meal,” Weber said.

For students like Michael Mohr, a senior at Shawnee Mission East, it was a chance to help others. Mohr, 18, is in his first semester with the culinary program.

“Giving back to the community is a huge part of the class. It’s awesome to be a part of,” he said.

Because it’s a special project, Mohr spent more time cooking for the project that he would normally spend at the bistro for class.

“It really makes me put my heart and soul into the cooking,” he said.

Students like Mohr have impressed Weber.

“I was blown away. They’re so professional. … I had to keep reminding myself these are teenagers,” Weber said.

Matt Ziegenhorn, an entrepreneurial leadership teacher at the district’s Center for Academic Achievement, helped coordinate with others at various schools to find out which families might benefit from the program.

By the time they started cooking the food, 175 families had already signed up for the meal. Families were able to pick up their meals Dec. 9 and 10.

Ziegenhorn loves being able to direct the students’ efforts toward a project like Kids Feeding Kids.

“We have a unique ability to cook on this scale easily,” he said. “Even in Johnson County we have families in need. It’s all of our responsibility to look after our neighbors.”

Students must work on three professional experiences, such as this project or a catering order, each semester. Between 25 and 30 of the 84 students in the culinary program worked on this project.

Part of the $15,000 grant Weber received paid for the school’s time and materials, and Lucky International Trading donated the produce.

Generally, it costs $2,500 on top of the food donations to produce 1,000 meals. Weber hopes to do another five or six events like this one with the remaining grant money.

“The big challenge is getting the word out, building awareness, so I can get consistent funding do this at more school districts,” she said.

She’s already in contact with other area school districts, as well as Operation Breakthrough, to make it happen. Weber said she hopes to do another event with Broadmoor soon.