After a long and successful career, Keith Zook has found a new purpose and meaning through volunteer efforts.
Keith first interviewed for a job with P&G more than three decades ago. He served in various capacities throughout his career. Before retiring several years ago, Keith managed P&G’s Worldwide Product Donation and Emergency Response efforts. In this capacity, Keith had his first exposure to food banks, ultimately connecting with the Freestore Foodbank through Feeding America. Keith first learned of the Cincinnati COOKS! program from his good friends, Fred and Amy Diamond, early supporters of the Freestore Foodbank initiative when it first began in 2001.
Keith has always enjoyed cooking, especially with his wife Debbie who is also an excellent cook. On retirement, Keith took the opportunity to earn a culinary certificate from Cincinnati State, with a focus on baking. “Baking appeals to me, because it is very scientific and precise,” he says. The experience at Cincinnati State broadened his horizons, and Keith loves making his own stocks, pretzel buns and macaroons.
Keith regularly volunteers these days, working with the Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen as well as the Freestore Foodbank’s Cincinnati COOKS! program. At COOKS! Keith oversees a hands-on three-hour baking instruction session with the students weekly.
“I’ve watched the students prepare thousands of meals for the community,” he says. “They are involved in every aspect of the operation, and are committed to quality work. The instructors and students have taught me a lot about communication, patience and life in general.”
Keith had the opportunity recently to attend a COOKS! graduation ceremony. “Seeing the results of their accomplishment,” he says, “and the families pride, joy and support of the students is incredible and very meaningful to me.”