Flight Fund: A Home Economics Revival

Flight Fund Story of Impact: This blog is part of a series on the impact of the Library Foundation’s Flight Fund, an internal microgrant program exclusively for Library staff to launch innovative new programs, events, and services for the community as well as expand existing programs to reach new audiences.

In the Kitchen with Shef Shaun Program:
Mint Hill Library

The Need

In recent years, the Mint Hill community has seen a surge in fast food restaurant openings and access to convenience foods. Coupled with rising food prices and the prohibitive cost of cooking classes, the Library staff were being called on to help families create healthy and affordable food at home. Mint Hill Library’s food-focused classes had been successful in the past, and the team knew it had an audience looking for answers.

The Team

To maximize their skill in adult programming, the Mint Hill Library staff needed an expert. Enter Shaun “Shef” Williams, a local chef, cookbook author and entrepreneur who had recently moved back to the area and was eager to share his gifts with the community.

The Ask

Shef submitted a proposal outlining the budgeting needs for a four-week hands-on cooking program. Unfortunately, the cost made the program out of reach within the branch-level budget. Led by Sally Deason, the staff created a truly compelling argument in their grant application for bringing this program to life.

The Grant

The review panel were impressed and provided a $2,010 Flight Fund grant to obtain all the necessary resources to deliver this program to patrons — and at the quality level they deserve.


Shef Shaun’s kind attitude and down-to-earth demeaner made it a pleasure learning from him,” shared a participant. “I also enjoyed the interaction from the community. I learned from them also. Some folks asked very relevant questions and a few other folks knew the answers.”

The Impact

100% of the participants who completed the survey said they learned something new. And beyond the practical skills of meal prep, food safety and budgeting, the community conversations were an enormous benefit to the group.

“These classes helped improve my cooking skills. I enjoyed the socialization with others, learned new tips, and truly improved how to handle food at home,” remarked another participant. “Sally and Shef were so easy and accessible to all of us. Thank you.”

“Based on the data in these surveys, most participants cook at home the majority of the week and the true value they found in these sessions was community conversation. Staff observations noted similar trends.” said Sally Deaton. “A handful of participants in each session appeared young and more interested in the technical information being presented by the chef. The majority engaged with the chef via conversation asking in-depth questions and requesting recommendations for different ingredients.”

Sally and the Mint Hill staff also noticed that the program series brought people into the Library who never attended adult programs before and generated conversations that the public would like to see continued.

“In the next year, we will be starting a cooking conversation club welcome to all cooks,” shared Sally, “with an eye to helping those who need guidance in the kitchen.”

Want to create opportunities that are inclusive and community-building?

Consider a gift to the Library Foundation today and help us fund programming like “In the Kitchen with Shef Shaun.”

Branch Enhancement, Community, Home Page, Innovation, Libraries Matter, Library Locations, Partnerships

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