Librarians at West Oakland Public Library


What motivates you to use the Charlie Cart or bring it to your community?

I love cooking with our patrons. Bringing nourishing food to people is the best! We also are located in what is known as a food desert.

How many people does your library/library network reach with your Charlie Cart cooking programs?

We can accommodate up to 30. We normally have about 20 people come although once when partnering with Hodo we had 36 people come to make tofu and spring rolls.

Tell us a little bit about how you are using the Charlie Cart Mobile Kitchen and Charlie Cart Curriculum?

We are using it to do patron suggested programs, programs led by people in the community, as well as staff led programs. We find that using the curriculum is the easiest as all of the measurements for the large group as well as the break out smaller groups is already done for you.

What feedback have you received about the Charlie Cart tools and equipment?

Everyone thinks it’s super handy, neat, cute, and cool.
What is your favorite Charlie Cart lesson so far? I loved strawberry shortcake. It’s personally my favorite desert and I liked being able to use the oven. Also having patrons make the dough was really fun. I also enjoyed Garlic Toast & Greens. My colleague led that one and I liked the tasting of the different ingredients as we went along.

What stands out to you about the Charlie Cart lesson plans and curriculum materials?

They are very easy to use. They are a little heavy on the educational pieces for us to strictly follow but they are a great starting point. The recipes are great and I love how they are broken up by class grade & seasons.

What plans do you have for using the Charlie Cart in the future and growing your cooking program?

We would love to have a monthly program but sadly have still not gotten there yet due to staffing issues. We would also love to grow having community members come in to do programs. Again this has been a challenge with staffing fluctuations.

What influence do you see these cooking programs having on kids and families in your community?

I think/hope that children are more invested in what they are eating in their homes and hopefully they are involved more in the cooking.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in cooking with kids at the library and how have you overcome that?

We have a very hands on community and attendees quickly jump in to help each other so there really haven’t been too many challenges. Reminding children to wash their hands and not touch their bodies after doing so may be the biggest challenge. We are sure to have a staff member at each of our three hands on tables and most all of our youth are either old enough or are accompanied by adults for the more challenging aspects of cooking.

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