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New record: 204 friends in one week…

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Since we moved into the Kitchen, we at PB &J are very frequently asked what we do here (always reminding me of the below Office Space scene).  Many people who didn’t know us before we moved a year and a half ago are kindly very curious about how we spend our days in this beautiful space as they haven’t known us since we started back in 2008.

What would you say You do here? - What would you say You do here?  Office Space

Sometimes it’s not easy to give a clear sense of what exactly we do over at PB &J because we are a partnership organization in nature and by design which means there are always a lot of moving pieces and not a lot of time to stop and talk about said pieces. Not to mention we are lean on the staffing side, and none of us have any sort of PR background…so things like updating our website and writing blog posts usually get pushed aside so we can  teach a class of over 20 eight and nine year olds how to roast broccoli or keep an email chain going with a new partner.

So I thought it would be a neat experiment to document a week here on our blog.  Granted, it was one of our busiest yet—204 kids, parents, friends and volunteers at PB &J (both on and off site) last week.  But I dare say this amount of activity is rapidly becoming our new normal.

So here it is: a sampling of the hands on work…I’m excluding the behind the scenes food purchasing, menu developing, not to mention “office-y” work like writing emails back, paying bills…


9:30-11:30—Host our weekly Virginia Institute of Autism friends who help us get ready for the week: inventory, organize, fold, chat.

3:30-5pm– Have Level 2-3-4 in the Kitchen to make Burmese Chicken Soup.  These year-long classes (this year themed “Around the World”) are filled with students from Boys and Girls Club, Walker Upper Elementary and Buford Middle School.  Many of whom we’ve had the pleasure of having in class for 5 years and execute the recipe individually weekly to take home and share with their family.

Across town at the same time… host Boys and Girls Club Cherry Avenue Explorers.

6–  Host a group of “bigs and littles” from Big Brothers Big Sisters who made and shared a pasta dinner together.


10–Host moms and toddlers from Ready Kids who make Creamy Penne Pasta and sautéed broccoli in our Cooking Matters Program.  After preparing lunch together, the moms take home bags full of ingredients to create the recipe fully once at home for their families.

3– Have Tim, the new Executive Director of Madison House over to see the space and meet some of his amazing volunteers in action (he stayed the whole time…was a great addition to the class).

4-5:30–  Host twenty-one 3rd through 5th graders for their weekly Explorer class from the Boys and Girls Club on Cherry Avenue and Southwood, this week we made Farmers Market Salsa and seasoned Turkey Nachos.

Across town at the same time…Explorer classes happening at Sunrise Community and Boys and Girls Club Jack Jouett.

6-9:15– Had 16 English as a Second Language (ESL) from the Charlottesville City Schools Adult Education program in to learn to make home-made pizza dough and simple fresh dressings for salad..  Also sent home with all of the ingredients to recreate for their families.

8:48 pm— Frantically email Local Food Hub to beg them for local sausage for Soupapalooza entry (cool local restaurant soup competition benefitting Habitat for Humanity at Commonwealth Skybar).


11 — Host 22 pre-schoolers from Bright Stars at Cale Elementary before their field trip to the Discovery Museum to learn about eating a “rainbow of color” by making a lunch fruit and veggie pasta salad (delicious by the way).

1—Hosted our weekly Ivy Creek Explorers Class.

3:30– Hosted our Level 1 Chef in Training kids in from Walker Upper Elementary and Buford Middle.  “Test Kitchen Day” try making angel food cake with 3 different flours and see which is best—cake, whole wheat and all purpose (they read like they ranked among the kids).

4:05– Receive (hand delivered) aforementioned Rock Barn Sausage from Matt at Local Food Hub.

4:15—Angel food cake is baking, Level 1’s jump in and start prepping our award winning Sunset Soup for Soupapalooza.

Across town at the same time…host Boys and Girls Club Cherry Avenue Explorers (Teen Edition).

5:30-7:45–  Big Brothers Big Sisters bigs and littles join our Level 1 students to continue soup preparation.


2:30-5:00pm– Courtenay and Alicia head out to teach at Westhaven Community Center and Walker Upper Elementary school cooking classes.

8-10 pm—Now that the weeks classes are over, have the City Schoolyard Garden (CSG) in to start prepping the Kitchen for their event the next night.

10:15– Start compiling flowers around town for sprucing up the tables tomorrow.


9 am– Continue scrubbing and deconstructing Kitchen to turn it into a fancy venue for a delicious dinner.

3 pm—Harvest Moon Catering arrives.  Real transformation starts happening…

6:30–  Wonderful guests arrive for our first ever fund raising dinner at the Kitchen for CSG, in one night: paid for the entire summer season of garden education for this year.  WHOLE THING underwritten by these amazing folks:

10:46— What a blast.  Leave.  Sleep.


9 am—Arrive at kitchen to get ready for Soupapalooza.  Where we lose to the Bavarian Chef and Commonwealth.  In our defense, their soups were UNREAL.  We’re going to have to get them in to teach us their recipes…  Great win guys!

Later that afternoon—close down kitchen.  Breathe.  Until Monday…


Stop and take stock in how HUMBLING it is to be a partnership organization and get to work with so many exceptional organizations and people.



One Comment

  • Grandma Dottie

    Utterly amazing. Who told you you are not good at PR. Got Habitat and Commonwealth in, to say nothing of my lovely great grandaughter, Lucy. I am so proud of you Emily and your wonderful staff. Keep up the good work, obviously a much needed program in Cville.

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