Once a homeless family has a roof over their head again they often struggle to put meals on the table, but thanks to a South Florida food blogger, they are ready to face the challenge. Kevin Ozebek has today’s 7Spotlight.

There is no such thing as too many cooks in this kitchen.

Ruth Martinez: “Abigail, after I put the bacon in here you know you have to keep an eye on it.”

For Ruth Martinez and her daughters, cooking is a family affair for a very important reason.

Ruth Martinez: “I was born with glaucoma, congenital glaucoma.”

Along with dealing with vision loss, Ruth has also struggled with homelessness.

Ruth Martinez: “I was in a domestic violence environment for 16 years, and I made the decision to, you know, grab my children and go.”

Ruth made her way to Camillus House, which provides support for the homeless. The organization helped Ruth find this apartment, but she soon realized having her own home came with new challenges.

Ruth Martinez: “My sight has gotten worse, so I was getting a little emotional about it, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m not cooking like I used to.’ I’ve been looking for easier foods, faster foods to cook, so that I wouldn’t put myself in danger in the kitchen.”

But easier and faster foods did not always mean they were healthy or in Ruth’s budget.

She needed help. It came in the form of a flier from Camillus House.

It was for an online cooking class, called Cooking Healthy Enjoyable Food – or the CHEF Challenge.

Stacie Archer started the CHEF challenge last year.

Stacie Archer: “It came to me that these are people that now have kitchens and cookware, and they need to learn some of the basic skills in making healthy, affordable meals.”

The CHEF Challenge class is available each month to families in the Verde Gardens community in Homestead. Each family gets a free meal kit to cook the recipe of the month.

Stacie Archer: “The way we do these recipes is we design them for a family of four, and it has to come in under $20.”

The CHEF Challenge began with Stacie cooking from her own kitchen. Now, she’s hosting from the demo kitchen here at FIU. She also has an extra set of hands to help.

Stacie Archer: “We are now recruiting chefs from Miami’s best restaurants that we have here, and we have a chef that co-hosts with me every month.”

Danny Ganem: “Ready for more sugar?”

Chef Danny Ganem taught the class how to make bolognese.

The families follow along from their own kitchens.

Ruth and her daughters follow the directions closely. Nine-year-old Elizabeth washes the vegetables and big sister Abigail chops them and watches over the sauce.

Abigail Martinez: “It’s like it definitely brings us together more, and it’s like, oh, you made this taste really good, something we can also talk about a lot.”

Each recipe can be prepared with just $20 worth of groceries, which is well within Ruth’s budget and all the help she gets from her kids is priceless.

Ruth Martinez: “Being able to see them in the kitchen and like I sit on the couch and watch and it makes me feel good.”

A few groceries, and a little help from the family, make for a delicious meal everyone can enjoy.

If you know someone, some group or some place we should spotlight, send us an email at 7spotlight@wsvn.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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