Real Men Cook, an annual Father’s Day celebration that promotes awareness of black fathers who serve their families every day, will blow out the candles on its 27th birthday this month by expanding from one location in the city to 27 in Chicago and the South Suburbs.
Scheduled for June 19th from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the cookout is expected to attract a crowd of 5,000 people to its public events in Chicago and the burbs.
Real Men Cook food fests also are scheduled for Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
In addition to the usual barbeque fare, Real Men Cook will emphasize healthier foods for a community of eaters that often suffer high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Men involved with the event also will feed men at a designated homeless shelter.
Yvette Moyo, who along with Kofi Moyo, founded Real Men Cook, explained that the additional locations will help the celebration’s message reach more people. For 26 years, Real Men Cook was held in Palmer Park at 111th and South King Drive.
Rael Jackson, president of Real Men Charities, agrees. “Life is about change,” he said. “Localizing and expanding the event’s reach is a way of keeping the healthy families and the good men movement vibrant.”
This year, Real Men Cook celebrations are scheduled for the Chicago neighborhoods of Englewood, Chatham, South Shore, Hyde Park, Lawndale, Bronzeville, Auburn Gresham and Park Manor.
In the Chicago area, Real Men Cook has partnered with a number of organizations to create public celebrations. They are: Mosque Maryam, 7351 S. Stony Island; Trinity United Church of Christ,
1276 W. 20th Ave., Gary, Ind.; Lawndale Christian Community Church, 3827 W. Ogden; Hales Franciscan High School, 4930 S. Cottage Grove; Better Boys Foundation, 1512 S. Pulaski Road and The New Regal Theater, 79th and Stony Island.
Developing A Dedicated Driven Youth in the Dan Ryan Woods, which is part of the Cook County Forest Preserve, and Fathers with Blessings will also host a Real Men Cook event at the Dolton Park District’s Early Learning Center, 729 Engle Street, Dolton, Ill.
In addition, there will be 20 private locations that are only open to members of that individual organization.
Each public and private location will include activities for children.
Lead sponsoring organizations in Chicago are Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and Next Level Health. Supporting sponsors are the University of Chicago Medicine, Whole Foods, Harmony Health Plan and Great Migration Centennial Commission.
The importance families eating together
The celebration emphasizes the importance of families sitting at a table together to share a meal.
Jackson said bringing families together for a meal is a powerful ritual that strengthens the African-American Community.
Meals for the homeless
In addition to cooking for friends and families, men participating in the event also will prepare food for residents of a men’s homeless shelter on the South Side. The Men’s Club of the Church of the Good Shepherd will partner with Real Men Cook on Father’s Day to serve 50 meals to homeless men who live in the Door of Hope Rescue Mission, a 30-bed transitional housing ministry located at 5313 S. Indiana.
“These men are fathers, sons, husbands and grandfathers who are part of the fabric of our community but experiencing a momentary challenge,” Jackson said.
Attention to healthy meals
Real Men Cook will continue its focus on serving healthy foods to educate blacks about weight loss and fighting and controlling debilitating diseases that include diabetes and high blood pressure. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that black men and black women suffer from the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity.
“So in addition to the ribs and chicken, there will be servings of grilled vegetables, baked fish, fruits and salads,” a spokesperson said. “Incorporating healthy choices into the menus supports Real Men Charities, Inc.’s mission to build healthy families and communities and spread the message that food is medicine.”
This year’s event will be bolstered by an aggressive Social Media campaign on Facebook and Twitter. The Real Men Cook’s hashtag is #realmencook. The events will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 19.
Men who participate in the event usually wear chef’s hats and Real Men Cook aprons. The most-famous chef was U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, who showed up with Sasha and Malia, his two daughters. Obama is carrying Sasha and Malia is holding onto his leg.
At the time, he was running for president, an office he would win twice.