Robyn Rozario jokes that she and her mother have a “crazy relationship” — until they’re in the kitchen.
“We always seem to get along when we’re cooking,” said Rozario, a family services coordinator with Catholic Community Services (CCS), a division of archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS).
Realizing that fixing a meal together led to “talking about everything and bonding,” Rozario designed an event to help CCS’s clients improve their parenting skills by whipping up lunch.
“Chopped: Protective Factors Edition” gathered some 25 adults Feb. 6 at a Northeast Philadelphia kitchen where they worked in teams to transform bags of ingredients into nourishing entrees. CCS provided poultry, vegetables, seasonings and utensils to participants, who wore food service gloves while slicing, dicing and frying at four electric skillet stations.
Now in its second year, the event mirrors the Food Network’s show of the same name, right down to the mystery ingredient.
“Our team received a mushroom, and it threw me that one of us is allergic to (mushrooms), but we have to use it,” said Glenda Bryant, a service coordinator at NET Community Care. “So we’re going to leave that out until the end, and keep some of the dish mushroom-free.”
Despite the prizes awarded by CCS staff, however, the focus is more collaborative than competitive.
That difference is central to CCS’s approach, which stresses five protective factors that can prevent child abuse: social and emotional competence; knowledge of parenting and child development; social connections; concrete support and resilience.
The factors are part of the Strengthening Families program, an internationally recognized social services model originally developed in the 1980s by psychologist Karol L. Kumpfer and now implemented widely throughout the United States. CSS utilizes the program at a number of its agencies, including its CCS and Out of School Time (OST) sites.
“As they’re preparing lunch today, they’re utilizing some of those skills necessary for parents to be successful,” said Ginger Smith, CCS’s community liaison. “Things like resilience, being adaptable when plans don’t go your way, and being able to ask for concrete support in times of need.”
Smith added that the CCS team reviews the protective factors in detail after the meals have been prepared.
The cooking exercise engages participants more fully and makes the lesson more concrete, said Rozario.
“We review these concepts all the time, but this makes it fun and hands on, instead of just sitting around a table and having a conversation,” she said.
Kathy Arbour, who has attended CCS’s parent discussion groups for three years, found her first Chopped event insightful.
“It gives you an opportunity to understand that other people are walking the same road, and facing some of the same issues and challenges when it comes to parenting,” she said.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103