Virginia small business owner helps keep kids engaged in the kitchen
Keeping kids engaged, curious and confident throughout virtual learning and lockdowns is a task many parents and schools have struggled with over the past 10 months. Fortunately, Virginia small business owner Ellen Victoria Luckey is well equipped to help her community tackle the issue.
Ellen Victoria was inspired to open her own cooking school after spending years navigating her eldest daughter’s food intolerances without much support. In order for her daughter to be able to eat well, Ellen Victoria needed to take her diet into her own hands. She started developing recipes and testing organic ingredients that her daughter could enjoy.
Over the years, cooking became a family activity in Ellen Victoria’s house with her husband and three girls in the kitchen to lend a hand for every meal. This is when Ellen Victoria started to see the huge benefits of cooking for children’s development.
She says, “I can see the change immediately when my kids come into the kitchen. They gain a confidence they never had before.”
In 2016, Ellen Victoria decided that what she had learned in her home kitchen was worth sharing with her community, and so Victoria’s Kitchen was born. Over the years, Ellen Victoria has built partnerships with local schools, community centers and nonprofits through her kids cooking school. Ellen Victoria and her family have even appeared on PBS doing a cooking show for families.
She explains, “The kitchen is a great place for kids to learn maturity, responsibility and independence and our community has really rallied behind us.”
Despite her business’s success, she was put at a standstill last March as COVID-19 began to spread through the state. With her business relying so heavily on in-person gatherings, Ellen Victoria had to re-evaluate her business model. Not only was she seeing school closures from a business perspective, but she was also seeing them from a parent’s point of view. With three active kids stuck at home, she knew her cooking classes were more important than ever. So, Ellen Victoria started up a program that had been on her mind for quite some time.
She started putting together meal kits that she could deliver straight to her clients’ homes without any contact and began holding virtual classes to help continue to engage kids who were stuck at home.
In July, Ellen Victoria was finally able to open her first kitchen space where she has been able to welcome limited groups for cooking classes. She has even been able to open up the space for local kids who are having trouble doing virtual learning from home.
Although she has had to make so many adjustments to her business, it has been worth it to help keep kids engaged and fed throughout the pandemic.
She says, “We are more than just a cooking school, we are a community. It really does take a village to raise these kids.”