I never imagined that cooking dinner would change my family’s lives and have an impact on the community where I live. But it did. And it wasn’t even a meal that I made myself.
About a year ago, my daughter Claire and I teamed up to cook dinner together, but not just cook it, we also filmed it. Channeling our inner celebrity chefs, we created a short video about our creation and sent it into Uncle Ben’s® for a national contest. One meal, one film, one night of family bonding and our lives were changed.
The Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest is a national program that encourages parents to get their children in the kitchen to teach them about cooking and healthy eating habits. As a mother of two wonderful kids and a teacher at an elementary school with many children receiving free or reduced lunch, I know firsthand how important teaching kids’ good eating habits can be. What better way to teach my own kids this lesson and lead by example?
So, we were one among hundreds of families who submitted a short video of ourselves cooking healthy meals together with our children. After our video was entered, we got our community to rally around us and my daughter’s school. With their help, my daughter Claire was named one of the three finalists in the contest. We were shocked and so excited. It was overwhelming to see so much support from our community, not only for us as a family, but also in helping to bring a new cafeteria to our school, which so desperately needed it.
In early January, Uncle Ben’s called and said they were planning an event intended to celebrate all the finalists. Much to our surprise, however, it was announced that we were the Grand Prize winner of the Ben’s Beginners™ contest and $15,000 for our family as well as a$30,000 cafeteria makeover for Claire’s school! The whole community who had supported us so much during the process was there to celebrate the win. Claire even received a key to the city from the Mayor Tim Walker for her hard work. Since the win, Claire has been known as the “Uncle Ben’s® girl” around the community.
The school is using the prize money to upgrade our cafeteria; previously school lunch was prepared for the students at another location and then driven in each day. All in all, this prize money will greatly impact the students in our community by giving them an opportunity to eat freshly prepared and healthier meals. The Ben’s Beginners™ contest has been the gift that just keeps on giving!
What started as a fun way to make a simple meal for our family will end up feeding so many children for years to come. If you have a night where you’re dreading making dinner, I encourage you to liven things up a bit. Bring the kids in to help, teach them how to cook, film your work. Who knows, you may end up with more than a meal in the end.
Rachel Noles and her daughter Claire are the 2013 Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest Grand Prize winner.