Solar Cooking
Last edited: 27 May 2020      
Trust in Education logo.jpg

Trust in Education is a nonprofit organization operated by Budd Mackenzie, that promotes village-to-village programs and builds schools in Afghanistan. In 2010 they also began to ship a few solar oven kits to the area. The kits were prefabricated by Jack Howell. Howell built five solar oven kits in his garage, and Mackenzie supervised the set-up of the cookers and provided some training.

Ninety percent of the cooking in Afghanistan is done using fires that burn fuelwood, which is usually collected by women and children. The children cannot attend school and the women are exposed to smoky cooking fires, which cause severe respiratory illness. Trust in Education's solar cooking program was designed to alleviate these issues and grow as needed through sponsorship by various organizations including the Boy Scouts and local high schools. The solar cookers are a good fit by providing more time for education for the children. Those wishing to help in their efforts should contact Mackenzie.


Inexpensive CooKits are distributed in Kabul, Afghanistan.

  • December 2017: Inexpensive solar cookers are distributed in Afghanistan - Trust in Education Afghanistan (TIE) continues its 13th year spreading solar cooking technologies and training in Afghanistan. The situation in Afghanistan is an ongoing crisis. With local partners in Kabul, distributions and training in remote areas and refugee camps have been successful. Jack Howell of TIE writes, “We have our cardboard panel cooker (CooKit) stamped out by Tharco in Hayward, California, USA for $1.00 USD per unit. We collect Mylar coffee bean bags from Peet’s Coffee for free. We ship everything to Kabul for free through the Denton Program (USAID) out of Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, USA We have taught Afghans how to attach the Mylar to the panel cookers which is very easy. In fact, they have been very innovative by coming up with other ways of making cookers faster. In the end, we have a complete solar cooker for $1.00 USD. The water pasteurization devices (WAPI) are made in my garage for $0.22 USD by crews of high school volunteers.”

The Trust in Education variation of the CooKit, which uses recycled Peet's Coffee bags for the reflective material.

  • July 2015: The National Energy Globe Award Afghanistan 2015 was awarded to Trust In Education - The jury noted, Trust in Education, under the leadership of Jack Howell, is distributing solar cookers to those living in refugee camps in Kabul, Afghanistan. Not only does this company aid in the feeding and protection of many people, but they also help to protect the environment by keeping harmful waste out of the landfill. National Energy Globe Award Afghanistan
Interact solar cooker construction gathering.jpg
A workshop trainer from TIE teaches a mother how to use her new CooKit, 3-10-14 .jpg
  • March 2014: Afghan refugees let the sunshine in - Thanks to the passion of volunteer Jack Howell, Trust in Education (TIE) initiated a solar oven project in 2010. TIE started with five solar cookers made by Jack, and deliverd them to Afghanistan in August 2010. That's how it all began. On February 8, 2014 over 60 students from five Bay Area, California high schools joined TIE to build CooKit solar cookers. They are part of the over 100 high schools with Interact Clubs fro District 5170. The district plans on providing 5,170 CooKits to Afghan refugee families. Assuming an average of ten members per family, that makes 50,000 people who will be introduced to solar cooking as a result. TIE already has 500 solar cookers in refugee camps, and has requests for more.

New solar box cookers and fireless cookers are distributed in Tanzania by Macedonia Ministry in collaboration with the Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society.

  • March 2014: Solar cooking promotion in the Arusha region of Tanzania - In 2012 to 2014, Macedonia Ministry (NGO) in collaboration with Kyoto Twist from Canada provided 100 solar cookers, and 100 fireless cookers to 100 families, as well as provided workshops in their use in this Maasai community in Tanzania. The trainings were successful, as varieties of food were cooked including ugali (hard porridge), cooked rice, vegetables, meat, beans, makande (beans mixed with maize), milk tea. Previously they have used charcoal and firewood to cook their food. They were excited to enjoy food cooked with solar cookers. The result of using the cookers has reduced tree cutting, and eye and chest problems due to smoke has been reduced by 40%. Students are now able to attend school, since the money which used for buying fuel wood and charcoal is now saved and used for other purposes including medication, school fees.

Afhgan family receives their Trust in Education solar cooker.

The Trust in Education variation of the CooKit, which uses recycled Peet's Coffee bags for the reflective material.

  • April 2013: Jack Howell reports that once the 100 volunteer-built solar ovens were delivered, a solar box cooker variation with a wooden base and 1" of rigid insulation, refugee families were bused to the Trust in Education office in Kabul, Afghanistan. They were given a four-hour lesson on how to use the solar ovens, and each family was given an oven to take back to their camp. Since this initial project, the new cookers are a CooKit variation, being produced at a local box manufacturing company in San Leandro, California. The reflective material used for the solar panel cookers is recycled Mylar coffee bean bags from Peet’s coffee headquartered in Berkeley, California. They are cut open and cleaned by adults with developmental disabilities by the people from Futures Explored in Lafayette, CA. With the reflective interior surface facing out, they are then stapled to the cooker panels by the Afghans. We have delivered 2,000 cookers to Afghanistan and collected over 20,000 bags from Peet’s (keeping many Mylar bags from the landfill.) The new cookers are working very well and Afghans love them.

Sampling solar cooked lentils, rice, potatoes, eggs, mixed vegetables, dahl, popcorn, tea, and for dessert, chocolate, yellow, lemon and spice cakes at the Dar al Noor Mosque, July 2011.

  • July 2011: Solar Cooking Expo at Northern Virginia Mosque Solar cooking in Islamic countries is on the rise, but its wide-spread acceptance as a significant way to reduce the damage caused by smoky cooking fires will need greater support from the international development community. Solar Cookers International (SCI) board member Patricia McArdle and Afzal Syed of the Dar al Noor Mosque congregation contributed to this goal by hosting a well-attended solar cooking demonstration at Syed's mosque in Manassas, Virginia on Saturday July 9. Solar Household Energy co-founder Louise Meyer and two SHE volunteers from Washington DC also participated in this event. A popular DC radio show interview with McArdle about her novel Farishta two days before the event, drew large crowds from around the northern Virginia/DC metro region. Visitors sampled a variety of traditional and modern foods (lentils, rice, eggs, spiced potatoes, mixed vegetables, dahl, popcorn, chai tea--and for dessert, chocolate, yellow, lemon and spice cakes) all of which were baked, boiled, fried and roasted in the many solar cooker models on display. McArdle also demonstrated a StoveTec rocket stove and a retained-heat cooking basket in her integrated cooking method display. Members of the Dar al Noor Mosque community and other Muslim visitors told McArdle that solar cooking technology would be an extremely useful addition to the cooking devices currently used by people in their sun-drenched, fuel-starved home countries, including Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and by Darfur refugees in Chad. The event was initially proposed by Mr. Syed, a member of the Dar al Noor community, who attended a January 2011 solar cooking demonstration at the UN in New York, organized by SCI board member AJ Lederman. Soon after seeing that exhibit, Mr. Syed traveled to his home country with several Cookits, which he demonstrated to amazed friends and neighbors in Pakistan. Mr. Syed and his family are convinced that the widespread introduction of solar cooking technology in Pakistan could dramatically reduce the quantities of firewood, charcoal and LPG that are currently consumed at great expense and with serious environmental costs. The many visitors attending the Dar al Noor Mosque solar cooker exhibit agreed, as does McArdle, who has served for the past six months as a solar cooking expert on the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Fuel and Technology working group. McArdle is continuing with her efforts to convince the GACC and the U.S. Department of Energy to give as much support to R&D for solar thermal cooking technology as they are currently devoting to the improvement of wood burning fuel efficient stoves ($12.5 million). Dar al Noor mosque leaders said they would like to host another solar cooking demonstration next year. Under clear blue skies and with large enthusiastic crowds attending the event, Mr. Syed and the solar cooking team were convinced that they had accomplished their goal of spreading the word about solar cooking to a whole new audience.
  • Afghan family with solar box cooker

    January 2011:
    Ninety-five solar box ovens have been assembled and painted. The short term goal is to deliver them to refugee camps in Afghanistan and convince as many Afghan families as possible to use them whenever possible. In the long term, we hope to find a way for Afghans to build and sell solar ovens themselves. More information...

Audio and video[]

  • November 2011:

Solar cooking lessons

Afgan refugees get lessons in solar cooking, and new cookers to bring to their camps. Nov. 2, 2011

Articles in the media[]

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985 Moraga Rd. Ste.207
Lafayette, CA 94549

Tel.: (925) 299-2010
Jack Howell Tel.: +1 925-932-1383