CCSS

R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, R.7, W.3, SL.1, L.4


She Makes Meals That Heal

Maddie, 18, doesn’t just cook for people going through hard times—she’s been one of those people too. 

Deanne Fitzmaurice/Getty Images for Scholastic 

Chef Maddie
Maddie’s mom had cancer. Now Maddie cooks healthy meals for other families dealing with illness. 

    Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week. On those days, I leave school and drive 40 minutes to a special kitchen. When I get there, I put on my white chef’s coat and black Converse sneakers. Then I pull my hair out of my face with a bandana. 

    By 3:30 p.m., a dozen more teens arrive. We sit down with a snack. Our head chef tells us what we’ll be making that day. I start to get excited.

    Why? This isn’t an ordinary kitchen. I’m not just working an after-school job. I’m volunteering to make food at Ceres [SEER-eez]. It’s an organization where teens cook nourishing meals for families who are dealing with illness. 

    It means so much to these families to not have to worry about cooking healthy food. I know this because my first experience with Ceres wasn’t as a teen chef. It was as a recipient of their meals.

    Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week. On those days, I leave school and drive to a special kitchen. There, I put on my white chef’s coat and black sneakers. Then I pull my hair out of my face with a bandana. 

    By 3:30, a dozen more teens arrive. We have a snack. Our head chef tells us what we’ll be making that day. I start to get excited.

    Why? This isn’t just any kitchen. I’m not just working an after-school job. I’m volunteering with Ceres [SEER-eez]. At Ceres, teens cook nourishing meals for families who are dealing with illness.

    It means so much to these families to not have to worry about cooking healthy food. I know this because my first experience with Ceres wasn’t as a teen chef. It was as a recipient of their meals.

    Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week. On those days, I leave school and drive 40 minutes to a special kitchen. When I get there, I put on my white chef’s coat and black Converse sneakers. Then I pull my hair out of my face with a bandana. 

    By 3:30 p.m., a dozen more teenagers arrive. We sit down with a snack, and our head chef tells us what we’ll be making that day. I start to get excited.

    This isn’t an ordinary kitchen, and I’m not just working an after-school job. I’m volunteering at Ceres [SEER-eez], an organization where teens prepare nourishing meals for families who are dealing with illness.

    It’s a relief for these families to not have to worry about cooking healthy food. I know this because my first experience with Ceres was not as a teen chef but as a recipient of their meals.

A Family Illness

Ceres Community Project (class); Courtesy of The Craig family (Maddie and mom)

    When I was in eighth grade, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I felt sad, angry, and scared. As a nurse, my mom had spent her life caring for other people. She was the strongest woman I’d ever known. But soon she was tired, weak, and in pain from her treatments.

    My mom also had to have three surgeries. Those were even harder on her. At one point, she was in the hospital for 17 days. It broke my heart to know she was so sick.

    But there was one thing that always cheered me up: our weekly deliveries from Ceres. I loved unpacking the delicious foods and desserts. The pudding was definitely my favorite!

    I also loved seeing the handmade cards that the teen volunteers sent with the meals—just to cheer us up. And I liked knowing that the shopping, cooking, and cleaning for each meal were all taken care of. 

    My parents had enough to worry about. They were juggling doctor appointments and their normal duties. They still had to do the laundry and make sure my sister and I had rides to school. 

    We were all busy and tired. But Ceres fed our bodies, and it helped lift our spirits too. Instead of just eating quickly, we were able to come together over delicious meals.

    When I was in eighth grade, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I felt sad, angry, and scared. My mom was a nurse. She had spent her life caring for other people. She was a strong woman. But soon she was tired, weak, and in pain from her treatments.

    My mom also had to have three surgeries. At one point, she was in the hospital for 17 days. It broke my heart to know she was so sick.

    But there was one thing that always cheered me up: our weekly deliveries from Ceres. I loved unpacking the food. The pudding was my favorite!

    I also loved the handmade cards that the volunteers sent with the meals—just to cheer us up. And it was great that the shopping, cooking, and cleaning for each meal were all taken care of.

    My parents had enough to do. They were juggling doctor appointments and their normal duties. They still had to do the laundry and make sure my sister and I got to school.

    We were all busy and tired. But Ceres fed our bodies, and it helped lift our spirits too. Instead of just eating quickly, we sat together and enjoyed good meals.

    When I was in eighth grade, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I felt sad, angry, and scared. As a nurse, my mom had spent her life caring for other people. She was the strongest woman I’d ever known—but soon she was tired, weak, and in pain from her treatments.

    My mom also had to have three surgeries, which were really hard on her. At one point, she was hospitalized for 17 days. It was heartbreaking to know she was so sick.

    But there was one thing that always brightened my day, and that was our weekly deliveries from Ceres. I loved unpacking the delicious foods and desserts. The pudding was definitely my favorite!

    I also loved seeing the handmade cards that the teen volunteers sent with the meals—just to cheer us up. And it was wonderful to know that the shopping, cooking, and cleaning for each meal were all taken care of.

    My parents were juggling medical appointments and their usual responsibilities. They still had to do the laundry and make sure my sister and I had rides to school.

    We were all busy and tired—but Ceres fed our bodies, and it helped lift our spirits too. Instead of just eating quickly, we were able to come together over delicious meals.

Learning by Doing

    About a year later, I found out that Ceres was opening a kitchen near my home. I signed up to volunteer right away. Part of me was excited, but part of me was nervous. What if I was the only one who didn’t know how to cook?

    Before I began going to Ceres, I couldn’t do much more than bake cookies. But soon I was part of a team of teen chefs. We prepared food for huge groups of people. I learned how to make enough soup, turkey burgers, and chicken stew for 50 families. I also learned how to correctly use knives to cut vegetables. Everything we learn at Ceres we learn first by watching. Then, we try it ourselves. 

    Now I’m a senior in high school. I’ve been a part of Ceres for so long that I’m a teen leader. I help other students learn how to prepare their ingredients, follow recipes, and package the meals. I also visit schools to talk to younger kids about the importance of nutrition. 

    About a year later, I found out that Ceres was opening a kitchen near my home. I signed up to volunteer. I was excited, but I was nervous too. What if I was the only one who didn’t know how to cook?

    Before I began going to Ceres, I couldn’t do much more than bake cookies. But soon I was part of a team of teen chefs. We prepared food for huge groups of people. I learned how to make enough soup, turkey burgers, and chicken stew for 50. I also learned how to correctly use knives to cut vegetables. To learn each skill, we watch first. Then we try it ourselves.

    Now I’m a senior in high school. I’ve been a part of Ceres for a long time. I’ve become a teen leader. I help other students learn how to prepare their ingredients, follow recipes, and package the meals. I also visit schools to talk to younger kids about the importance of nutrition.

    About a year later, I found out that Ceres was opening a kitchen near my home. I signed up to volunteer immediately. Part of me was excited, but another part was nervous. What if I was the only one who didn’t know how to cook?

    Before I began volunteering with Ceres, I couldn’t do much more than bake cookies. But soon I was part of a team of teenage chefs. We prepared food for huge numbers of people. I learned how to make enough soup, turkey burgers, and chicken stew for 50. I also learned how to correctly use knives to cut vegetables. Everything we learn at Ceres we learn first by watching. Then we try it ourselves.

    Today I’m a senior in high school and a team leader at Ceres. I help other volunteers learn how to prepare their ingredients, follow recipes, and package the meals. I also visit schools to talk to younger kids about the importance of nutrition.

Giving Back

    I’m really happy to say that my mom is doing well now. Her strength continues to inspire me, and so does Ceres. Cooking healthy food is an important life skill that means so much to my family and me. 

    But Ceres hasn’t just taught me to cook. It has also shown me that it’s important to ask for help. When you’re going through a tough time, accepting support from others isn’t easy. But it’s so worth it. You can gain an entire community of people who really care about you. 

    Now I’m a part of that community at Ceres. I’m giving back the support I received. I love being able to help other families like mine. It’s the key—my key—to happiness.

    My mom is doing well now. Her strength inspires me. Ceres does too. Cooking healthy food is an important skill.

    Ceres hasn’t just taught me to cook. It has also shown me that it’s important to ask for help. When you’re going through a tough time, accepting help can be hard. But it’s worth it. You can gain a community of people who really care about you.

    Now I’m a part of that community at Ceres. I’m giving back the help I received. I love helping other families like mine. It’s my key to happiness. 

    I’m overjoyed to say that my mom is doing well now. Her strength continues to inspire me, and so does Ceres. Preparing nutritious food is an important life skill that means so much to my family and me.

    Ceres has given me more than just an education in cooking—it has also shown me that it’s important to ask for help. Accepting support from others when you’re struggling can be difficult, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. You can gain an entire community of people who really care about you.

    Now, as a part of that community at Ceres, I’m giving back the support I received. I love being able to help other families like mine. It’s the key—my key—to happiness.

 Ceres Community Project

In the Kitchen 
At Ceres, Maddie (left) and the other teens cook food for huge groups of people. She’s learned how to make soups, stews, and burgers.  

ACTIVITY: 
Cause and Effect

You’ve just read “She Makes Meals That Heal” It’s time to try this activity!

You’ve just read “She Makes Meals That Heal” It’s time to try this activity!

You’ve just read “She Makes Meals That Heal” It’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes an event happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

What to do: cause is what makes an event happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

What to do: cause is what makes an event happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

The Cause: Maddie’s mom was diagnosed with cancer.

The Cause: Maddie’s mom was diagnosed with cancer.

The Cause: Maddie’s mom was diagnosed with cancer.

Effect 1:

Hint: How did this make Maddie feel?

Effect 1:

HintHow did this make Maddie feel?

Effect 1:

HintHow did this make Maddie feel?

Effect 2:

HintWhat did the cancer and treatments do to Maddie’s mom?

Effect 2:

HintWhat did the cancer and treatments do to Maddie’s mom?

Effect 2:

HintWhat did the cancer and treatments do to Maddie’s mom?

Effect 3:

HintWhat did the family receive as help?

Effect 3:

HintWhat did the family receive as help?

Effect 3:

HintWhat did the family receive as help?

The Cause: Maddie started volunteering as a teen chef for Ceres.

The Cause: Maddie started volunteering as a teen chef for Ceres.

The Cause: Maddie started volunteering as a teen chef for Ceres.

Effect 1:

Hint: What did Maddie learn how to do?

Effect 1:

HintWhat did Maddie learn how to do?

Effect 1:

HintWhat did Maddie learn how to do?

Effect 2:

HintWhat does Maddie do now as a teen leader?

Effect 2:

HintWhat does Maddie do now as a teen leader?

Effect 2:

HintWhat does Maddie do now as a teen leader?

Effect 3:

HintHow does volunteering make Maddie feel?

Effect 3:

HintHow does volunteering make Maddie feel?

Effect 3:

HintHow does volunteering make Maddie feel?

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