Difference Makers: Queens High School Creates Cookbook To Help Community Recover From Coronavirus


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A school in Queens that was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic is recovering and one resident has the recipe for success.

Martin Van Buren High in Queens Village has changed from when Steve Wilson went back in the 1970s.

“It was 70% White, 30% Black, he explains.

It was a mostly middle class neighborhood, but in 2020, the demographic is much different.

“It’s 50% African American, 30% South Asian, 20% Hispanic,” Wilson says.

Unfortunately, the neighborhood has a lot of residents that are low income and when it was hit hard by the pandemic, many didn’t have the resources they needed to stay afloat.

“These families, not only because of the unemployment but because, possibly, the death of a parent, has left them dependent on a single income,” said Principal Tracy Martinez.

Wilson wanted to help, so he cooked up a digital cookbook.

He asked alumni, students, parents and teachers to provide comfort food recipes, with text and a video.

The final result was an array of food recipes from all over the world.

“It came together very quickly. A matter of weeks, it went from an idea to a digital cookbook with 168 recipes from 60 different countries and six continents,” Wilson said.

He put it up for sale and raised around $40,000 from downloads, $10 per book.

“I am very proud of our efforts in this cookbook,” said Alison Tucker, a profession chef who contributed her recipe for mushroom soup.

All that money goes back into the community, but the need is still great.

“We have hundreds of families in need that are facing eviction, having the lights turned off, not being able to feed their families,” said Wilson, who also runs the Martin Van Buren High School Alumni Alliance.

To purchase the book, you can visit the Martin Van Buren High School website.

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