Lunch at the Soul Food Project


A 2008 grant from the Rex Foundation helped San Francisco”s Nextcourse establish the Soul Food Project, a collaborative effort to give women leaving the county jail system practical resources for healthy lifestyles and good nutrition. Last week Rex executive director Sandy Sohcot had the opportunity to participate in a session–and enjoy the results. She reports:

On Thursday, March 18, I had the pleasure of being part of the lunch session of Soul Food, a project of Nextcourse that meets each Thursday at the Women’s Reentry Center of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.

On this day, a guest chef from the San Francisco Zen Center provided the meal recipes and guided the food preparation and cooking. Niyati Desai, the Soul Food Project Coordinator, began the session with all of us declaring our favorite vegetables, then followed with a review of cabbage and ginger, two of the main ingredients of the meal we were about to prepare, and how these ingredients provided nutrients and health. There were some excellent questions about good calories and bad calories, good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates, and why it was good to try tofu.

For the two hours, we were all a team, collaborating to prepare and cook the food, and then sit together to enjoy the delicious results. Over lunch, one of the women who regularly attends the project classes told me about how she has completely changed what she buys and cooks for her family meals and knows this has made a big difference. She said she is still dealing with resisting tempting snacks and desserts, and we commiserated about this ongoing, universal challenge.

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