A community cooks together

Instead of going the conventional route and holding a bake sale or raffle to raise some cash for the kids, Pemberton's Parents Advisory Council has decided to step into the world of publishing, releasing the Signal Hill Elementary Family Cookbook this week.

The book contains a wealth of recipes from families within the community that are both kid-tested and parent-approved. There are well over 200 recipes, including everything from delicious appetizers to dessert, and exotic dishes like Japanese chicken almond salad and spinach gomaae, to killer coleslaw, cranberry chili chicken, and Swiss cheese quiche.

Betsy Linnell is the PAC Secretary and chair of the cookbook project.

"One of the biggest challenges for parents always seems to be, 'what do I feed my kids tonight?' So it's always nice to know what's working for other families," Linnell said.

This is the first time in years that the school has produced a cookbook - Linnell guesses that it's been almost 20 years, in fact.

"We were looking for ideas that were a little bit different because there have been so many events - silent auctions, that kind of thing - and we really wanted something different."

Quite the cookbook collector herself, Linnell has an old school cookbook of her husband's on her own shelves, and was inspired to do a bit of research into how Signal Hill Elementary could assemble their own.

She found Gateway Publishing, based in Winnipeg, which uses a user-friendly online process to gather recipes from contributors, edit and assemble the material, and then print the final copy.

"Parents were given a login and password to allow them to input their recipes directly into the Gateway system, saving lots of time and co-ordination," Linnell said.

As the administrator, Linnell checked the progress of the submissions, which they began collecting in February, and by mid-March they had received 209 recipes from families within the community.

"This way, we had parents pledge recipes, so they would commit to, say, five recipes, and then they would go in to input them. Then I had parent volunteers work as proofreaders," she said.

Students also had a hand in the project. Each grade level at the school contributed artwork and photos for the dividers between sections.

"Publishing a cookbook was a natural fundraising project for this community," Linnell said. "Pemberton is such a diverse community with a vibrant agricultural economic base, that a project involving food and families was a good fit."

And apparently, the way into sponsors' hearts is also through their stomachs.

Between Linnell and just one other parent volunteer, they managed to find enough local business sponsors - in just two days - to cover the cost of printing 500 copies.

"Everybody that we contacted just immediately said yes."

They've already sold 125 pre-ordered copies, and all proceeds from the book will go towards projects at Signal Hill Elementary. Specifically, the two areas of focus at the moment are upgrades to the playground and renovations to the school's community kitchen, which would allow the school to expand the existing milk program and possibly to add a new fruit and veggie program.

"Essentially, we run programs that help enhance students' learning," Linnell said.

You can pick up a copy for $12 at Signal Hill Elementary, Mount Currie Coffee Company, Pemberton Valley Home Hardware, Pemberton Valley Supermarket, Village of Pemberton Office, Bananamay Bodyworks, Pemberton Valley Wellness, North Arm Farm, Pemberton Community Centre and the Heart of the Valley Bulk Food Emporium.

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