It is our great pleasure to announce that Melissa (Missy) Terrell, an alumna of Community Kitchen Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA, is the recipient of the 2023 Gloria Pépin Memorial Grant, an annual $5,000 award to an outstanding female graduate of a JPF-funded organization.

We congratulate Missy and we are proud to partner with Community Kitchen Pittsburgh in the important work they do every day in their community.

To receive this award is a tremendous honor and privilege, for myself and my children. Embodying the spirit of culinary excellence is allowing me to leave my mark in a place where other women and moms can see that there is a place for us. When I started Tug Butter I had no idea that simple family recipes would teach my autistic son to read, write, and do basic math.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this award and the opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the many gifts to be found in autism. It is my hope to continue to learn and grow and have the opportunity to reach back and teach those that were in the same position as myself.

— Missy Terrell

Melissa had a successful career as a social worker when she was told her 6-year-old son had autism and would face significant challenges with communication and learning. Due to her son’s needs, Melissa was unable to continue working, but while at home, she used food as a catalyst to teach her son to speak, read, and do basic math calculations. From this culinary work, Tug Butter LLC, her apple butter and pound cake business was born.

While at Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, Melissa was a natural leader. Her thirst for knowledge and opportunity was contagious among her classmates. After graduation, Melissa secured employment as a C-suite chef for the administrators at Pittsburgh Public Schools and recently has been promoted to oversee safety and sanitation training at all the district’s schools.

— Samantha Swartz, Community Kitchen Pittsburgh Operations Director