Following the 2016 election, bakers in cities around the country took their frustrations to the kitchen with artisan bake sales. From New York to San Francisco, chefs have churned out sweet treats in support of their local Planned Parenthood chapters. Inspired by Atlanta’s Cookie Grab, Natasha Gaskill, pastry chef at The Grey and The Grey Market, teamed up with Planned Parenthood Southeast (PPSE) to pioneer Savannah’s confectionary campaign with Plan C: Cookies for Choice. “I think all of us were grappling with how we could use the resources we have available to us to affect any level of change,” says Gaskill.
Gaskill has been a renowned Savannah baker for 15 years, but she also has a profound interest in social justice. She studied political science and gender studies in college intending to go to law school, but life led her to focus on creative pursuits in the kitchen. Cookies for Choice allows her to combine her passion for activism with her culinary talents.
The 2019 inaugural event, which included 18 bakers, sold out in advance and raised over $11,000 for PPSE. Following a Covid-forced hiatus last year, the event returns this spring just in time for Mother’s Day and has grown to include nearly 30 local chefs and eateries. “People want to be supportive of Planned Parenthood,” says Gaskill. “It’s just a sweet bonus that you get a box of cookies that you can take to your mom, your wife, or your friend who’s a mom.” And since 100% of the proceeds go to the Southeast chapter, you know your money supports programming within your own neighborhood.
In a sharply divided world, Planned Parenthood has come under fire, but Gaskill says the organization is deeply misunderstood and necessary to the health of our communities. “It’s hard to know what people believe these days, but Planned Parenthood offers so much healthcare. So many people utilize planned Parenthood for all of their regular checkups, their mammograms, cancer screenings,” says Gaskill. “It’s beyond just birth control and reproductive rights. They’re a general healthcare provider for so many people, especially in areas where there’s not much else. They’re essential.”
Each chef will make 250 treats which will be divided among the boxes with an assemblage of 20 offerings per box. The participant lineup includes prominent local bakers like Cheryl Day who, in 2019, created classic lavender shortbread cookies. Award-winning cookbook author Libbie Summers returns this year after adding spicy ginger cookies to the mix in 2019. The array also includes anticipated names like Auspicious Baking Company and Lulu’s Chocolate Bar alongside surprising contributors like Pizzeria Vittoria and Bull Street Tacos. Gaskill plans to make dulce de leche sandwich cookies. “I’m excited and curious to see what other people do. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what the mix is,” she says. “It’s a fun way to bring the restaurant community together especially after last year.”
Purchasers can pick up their cookie boxes at two locations on Saturday, May 8 at Ardsley Station (curbside) and the Forsyth Farmers Market. Online sales will open at noon on Monday, April 26 at give.classy.org/cookiesforchoice with each box priced at $60.