A Holiday Tradition

Holiday music played quietly in the background. A Christmas tree, tall enough to nearly touch the ceiling, completed the joyful atmosphere. The smell of spices filled the room. Around a table, 10 youth stood to take part in what is, for many Texas families, an annual holiday tradition.

The youth were visiting BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio for a two-part cooking lesson held December 12-13. As part of the ongoing “What’s Cooking?” series of classes, Alejandra Quezada, education specialist with BCFS-San Antonio, is teaching youth to make a variety of meals in preparation for life on their own. This was the 12th cooking class to date, and since the beginning of the series, youth have had the opportunity to learn how to make dishes like teriyaki chicken, beef and turkey burgers, picadillo, and fried rice.

Their most recent class was all about tamales – a food not to be made by the faint of heart or the short on time. On the first day ingredients were sorted and cooked, prepared to later fill the tamales. Peppers were roasted, corn husks were soaked, beans were slow-cooked and chiles were boiled.

The next day, youth returned to combine the ingredients and then assemble and cook the tamales. In total, they made more than 250 tamales, and each person that prepared the food got to take home a dozen.

“My favorite thing about the cooking classes has been being able to pass down my love for cooking and the ties it has to family,” said Alejandra. “Many of our clients do not have strong familial ties and I like to believe this is a moment in time that they enjoy and hopefully remember.”

A few participants had made tamales before, but it was a first experience for most of the youth. Whether teaching meal preparation, professional success, educational achievement, or healthy relational habits, BCFS-San Antonio consistently finds a way to help youth who are or were in foster care, letting them plan their lives and establish their purpose, ensuring they are given every opportunity to transition out of foster care and into a life of independence and success.

Learn more about the work that BCFS Health and Human Services is doing in San Antonio.