News / Blog

What’s Cooking at ClackCoKids?

By Natalie Hornstein; ClackCoKids Community Connections Specialist |

Long time Estacada community member Sandy Walker has joined the ClackCoKids team as a cook in our Estacada Center!

Sandy was an owner/operator at the Harmony Baking Company with her partner for almost 30 years before selling the business to her niece, keeping it in the family.

She saw our open position for a Cook on social media, and thought that it seemed like a perfect fit.

“I was a Head Start kid myself in Southeast Portland,” says Sandy. “I was 1 of 7 kids, and my mom needed help. Now I get to come full circle and do something I love working for Head Start.”

Sandy has been bringing her baking expertise to the center, making things like banana bread, pretzels, bagels, burger buns, sweet potato tots, and more from scratch.

“It’s a very small, intimate setting here at the Estacada Center,” she says. “We just have one classroom, and the kitchen is right there next to the classroom, so they can see everything I’m doing. I get more time to do some of these special projects than other cooks might have at bigger centers.”

Sandy wants to make sourdough starter with the kids as a class activity, and she has been asking the children what they like best that their families makes at home to get ideas of things she can make in the classroom. She has been teaming up with Estacada teacher Martha Pinto to host Mexican Food Day once a month. Martha helps the kids make tamales and empanadas with the children in the class as a learning experience. They have plans to make posole next.

“Food brings people together,” Sandy says. “It’s about finding common ground and having a shared experience.”

These interactive experiences aren’t the only way Sandy is getting her students to try new foods. She has a couple tricks up her sleeve.

“The best way to get them to want to try something is to make it ‘for the teachers’. If I make the teacher’s meal plates fuller with extra veggies, they see that, and say they want more veggies – because they want what the teacher has.”

Sandy says that she gets a lot of joy from seeing the children excited to try new foods: “The ‘thumbs up’ and the ‘knee hugs’ are great.”