MOMSnext: Jackie Brown: Freezing Food and Warming Hearts
by Matthew Vermillion
Meet a mom on the move:
Jackie Brown is the founder of Cook and Play, a nonprofit freezer cooking ministry in North Carolina. She serves on the Steering Team for her MOPS group in Ashville and is a wife, mother of four, teacher and homemaker.
How can I, a mom with a baby on my hip and a toddler in tow, possibly have time to reach out and serve my community? How can I be a good mother and still have a positive impact in my world? These were the questions Jackie Brown found herself asking a few years ago when she started an event called a “Cook and Play.”
She explains, “A Cook and Play consists of two to four women who gather for freezer cooking while their little ones have a play date.” Moms take turns watching the children as the sauce simmers, pasta boils and meat browns.
With a teaching background in home economics and some mad skills when it comes to freezer cooking, Jackie helps moms create fuss-free meals made from whole foods they can serve even in those dinner “crunch times.”
Then, one day, the answer to her question hit her. “We were providing food for our families in a fun, creative way,” she says. “But all those moms cooking and freezing meals created an overabundance. We soon realized the extra food was a blessing we could share with others.”
Jackie and her mom friends recognized the unique opportunity this presented to reach out into their community. So they started donating frozen casseroles to the local shelter for homeless women and children and going to volunteer on the days the meals were served.
This turned out to be a great outreach experience for Jackie and for her children. Since the first day she went and served meals in 2007, Jackie has volunteered at the shelter once a month.
She turned “Cook and Play” from an event into a nonprofit organization to equip women with the fundamentals of freezer cooking and serving others. The organization’s mission comes out of Proverbs 31: “She provides food for her family … and while she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
Jackie has been a MOPS mom for 10 years and says her group has always been a source of support and networking. Now her MOPS group is partnering with Cook and Play for a service project to cook and serve food for that same local homeless shelter.
Participating in a MOPS group allows Jackie to hear and see what kind of support moms need. And she has developed a blog called Mom on a Mission (momonamission.me) to help address those needs.
By asking what more she could do and coming up with creative answers, Jackie has mobilized moms to provide healthy meals for their own families. And these moms in turn provide hope for families in their community to whom a hot meal means a lot more than just dinner.
How can you serve?
Are you looking for a way to serve your community while you have young children? First, think about the unique skills or Connections you have. Then, start talking with friends to brainstorm ideas or think through local needs.
Matthew Vermillion is Online Community Coordinator at MOPS International.