WATAUGA — A Facebook community started in the High Country to help people become more confident when they cook has now raised nearly $10,000 for local community organizations.
Cookvid-19 was started early during the COVID-19 pandemic by two Appalachian State professors — Jack Kwong and Peter Fawson —after many restaurants were closed for dine in. Fawson, Kwong and another friend in New York would share pictures of their food with one another as a way to get by during the lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic.
“I think all of us enjoy sharing and talking about cooking and food,” Kwong said. “When it was clear that we were going to be staying home because of COVID-19, I thought ‘you know, if this sharing and talking about food makes us so happy, why not include others?’”
Currently the group has about 9,200 members from all across the country and the world, but the core group is in the High Country.
“Cookvid has become this really amazing community that has brought a lot of people joy,” Fawson said.
Kwong said the group includes people who are amateur cooks and those who are professional chefs. One member was on Iron Chef Masters in Canada. With the variety of skills on the page, Fawson said it’s great to see all the positivity of people helping each other brainstorm meal ideas.
Typically, when someone posts to the page that they are trying out a recipe and asks for suggestions, many group members respond with ideas.
“It’s amazing the amount of suggestions that come in, and everybody’s really positive,” Fawson said.
To both Fawson and Kwong, Cookvid-19 feels like a community. The community feeling has led to nearly $10,000 being raised for varying organizations in the High Country including the Hospitality House, Casting Bread Food Pantry, Community Care Clinic and Wine to Water food boxes.
“One of our earlier decisions was that if we got this Facebook group, we were determined to give back to the community,” Kwong said. “Shortly after the group started, we immediately raised $5,000 just out of the kindness and the generosity of our members.”
Because both Kwong and Fawson are professors at Appalachian State, they know they weren’t as affected by the pandemic as some other people.
“Things have changed drastically at the university, but as far as my everyday living being affected in a hard way, not necessarily,” Fawson said. “We definitely wanted to be able to give back, especially to those who are having a harder time than us.”
After that initial fundraiser, Caitlin Massey, the development officer at the Community Care Clinic, approached Fawson and Kwong about doing a fundraiser geared toward raising funds for the clinic.
Massey said she reached out about potentially doing a fundraiser geared around Valentine’s Day. Leading up to Valentine’s Day, Kwong and Fawson talked about how much they believed in the Community Care Clinic — a free clinic that provides healthcare to low-income, uninsured persons in the community. They also sold ornaments in December with proceeds going toward the clinic.
“What amazed me again was just the generosity of people,” Kwong said. “Initially it was just a request. This is what Community Care Clinic is about, we believe strongly in it and if you can help out, please do. We were just astonished again by the kindness of our members.”
The second part of the fundraiser was a Valentine’s Day t-shirt giveaway that was sponsored by Peabody’s, Pepper’s, Epic Family Chiropractic, Boone Realty and Miller Funeral Service.
After the fundraisers, Cookvid-19 raised roughly $4,800 for the Community Care Clinic, which Massey said was amazing.
More information on the Community Care Clinic and how to donate can be found at ccclinic.org/. The Cookvid-19 Facebook page can be found by searching “Cookvid-19.”