Elizabeth Fitzgerald | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Innovators

“One of my favorite questions is, ‘Why is there a kitchen in the library?’ ” says Elizabeth Fitzgerald. “There is such an opportunity [here] for advancing literacy.” As culinary literacy specialist at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s (FLP) Culinary Literacy Center, a commercial-grade kitchen classroom that seats 36, Fitzgerald teaches “reading (recipes), math (measuring), and even chemistry through cooking,” says nominator Donald Root, FLP chief of Central Library public services.
Elizabeth Fitzgerald

CURRENT POSITION

Culinary Literacy Specialist, Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia

DEGREE

MLIS, Rutgers University, 2006

FOLLOW

@freelibrarycook (Twitter); www.freelibrary.org/culinary

Photo ©2016 Shawn G. Henry

Culinary Class

“One of my favorite questions is, ‘Why is there a kitchen in the library?’” says Elizabeth Fitzgerald. “There is such an opportunity [here] for advancing literacy.” As culinary literacy specialist at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s (FLP) Culinary Literacy Center, a commercial-grade kitchen classroom that seats 36, Fitzgerald teaches “reading (recipes), math (measuring), and even chemistry through cooking,” says nominator Donald Root, FLP chief of Central Library public services.

The kitchen opened in June 2014 and has hosted 6,000 people at more than 400 events, with initiatives such as Nourishing Literacy—a kids’ program linked to the Common Core—how to create delicious meals on a SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) budget, and Edible Alphabet, an English-language learning (ELL) program. During two six-week ELL series in 2015, students spoke 11 languages and came from 12 countries. They are “refugees, primarily from the Middle East, Eastern Africa, and Southeast Asia,” says Fitzgerald. Her first class was for women torture survivors. “It was such a beautiful, uplifting, special class,” she says. Participants “connected over making a meal,” shared pictures, and hugged goodbye. With gift funds, FLP will expand ESL programs and add SNAP education in Spanish and family culinary literacy classes.

A recent ELL program for restaurant workers serves “a crucial need in Philadelphia, where all state funding for ELL classes has ceased,” says Root. Fitzgerald is also developing One Recipe Philadelphia, aimed at getting “all Philadelphians into the kitchen to master a shared simple, healthy, and delicious recipe,” Root says. Fitzgerald’s goal: to bring culinary literacy to all 54 FPL branches. “I can’t wait,” she says.

Comments

jp

hi liz

Posted : Apr 22, 2016 03:04

Liz

hi JP.

Posted : Apr 22, 2016 03:04


Liz

Spencer, check out Leanne Brown's Hood and Cheap. It's a beautiful cookbook that does just that. It's available as a free download on her website. And if you're close to Philly, check us out!

Posted : Mar 18, 2016 01:31


spencer

"how to create delicious meals on a SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) budget" YES! I've wanted to see someone do this for a while now- but I never had the focus or skills to get it done. Well done.

Posted : Mar 17, 2016 11:44


RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.