Can you imagine making 1,200 meals every day in your kitchen? Lowcountry Food Bank's Chef Emily Cookson ensures the LCFB rolls out thousands of meals almost every day to people who are food insecure.
With the assistance of production assistant Johnnie Gibson and 40 weekly volunteers, Chef Emily produces an average of 5,000 meals per week during the school year – half of which go to seniors through Lowcountry Food Bank Meals on Wheels partners. The other half feed children through the Kids Café program, which provides after-school meals through Lowcountry Food Bank partner schools and community centers. The kitchen prepares even more meals in the summer: last month, the kitchen prepared about 30,000 meals in total.
Chef Emily works closely with the Lowcountry Food Bank Nutrition team and dietetic interns from the Medical University of South Carolina to keep meals nutritionally sound using meal analysis software. She also supervises production of hot breakfasts for the Lowcountry Food Bank Summer Meals program and manages an eight-day program through partner Palmetto Goodwill called Culinary Kick Start. The program prepares students for restaurant work and often leads to a job upon graduation!
Through additional Lowcountry Food Bank partnerships with local high schools, Chef Emily manages work-based learning and a volunteer experience for students. On top of that, Chef Emily will supervise the production of an additional 8,000 meals this month for eight sites in Williamsburg County, which are comprised of shelf-stable breakfasts and a hot supper.
Emily has been with the Lowcountry Food Bank for 18 months. Prior to the Food Bank, she worked as a pastry chef for 15 years, served as a Chefs’ Feast chef and volunteered in the Lowcountry Food Bank kitchen. Emily earned an English degree from Furman University and worked in sales and marketing before attending Johnson and Wales University where she earned a degree in baking and pastry.