New Tool Helps People With Intellectual Disabilities Cook

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DES MOINES, Iowa –Preparing meals is an important part of living independently. Now, there's a new tool for people of all abilities to find their way around the kitchen.

With a little bacon, lettuce and tomato, Charlie Flippen whipped up a BLT wrap. "I love bacon and I love lettuce, so bring it on, absolutely," said Flippen.

A new online tool called Look Cook and Eat walked him through the process. Co-Creator Sue Hoss said, "Look Cook and Eat is a recently launched digital magazine designed to help people with intellectual and learning disabilities cook."

Hoss got the idea a few years ago while helping with the Plymouth Grounds Coffee Shop at Plymouth Church, which is a job training site for students with intellectual disabilities in the Des Moines School District. "Part of my job was to bake with them, and we'd make cookies and treats for the shop, and I discovered that they are very interested in cooking," she said.

The work inspired the digital magazine. The subscription service costs $30 a year. Every other month you get a set of nine menus. Each provides videos showing the simple ingredients and cooking tools you need. Then, a video shows how to prepare the meal. Hoss said, "There's a real need for material or aids to help people become self-sufficient and cooking is one of those things that everybody has to do it."

"Look Cook and Eat launched just a few weeks ago with the help of a more than $40,000 Kickstarter campaign. Hoss said as they gain more subscribers, the creators hope to grow the service. "And, generate enough income to where we can start hiring people with intellectual disabilities to help do work in the test kitchen, help do video work, be behind the stove and actually cooking," said Hoss.

Charlie likes using his talents in the kitchen as he learns to make special meals on his own. He said, "It makes me feel really good. It makes me feel I have been a part of something unique and something that is very powerful and special."

Hoss said while the digital magazine is designed for people with intellectual and learning disabilities, it can really help anyone in the kitchen make easy, well-balanced meals. You can find more information on the Look Cook and Eat website.