by Christine Kuhn, Co-Executive Director
We’re pretty sure that the only fool-proof way of getting kids to care about their food is to get them involved in growing and cooking it themselves!
We’ve seen this play out time and time again through our own Youth Education Programs. Right now, we’re in the middle of our After School Garden Club program at Riverwest and La Escuela Fratney Elementary Schools where we are working with youth every week in the classroom and their own school gardens. Each week, we focus on different topics such as how to make a healthy snacks, take care of their school gardens, compost, and other food system activities. Without fail, the favorite part of the program for every kid is the cooking. When we walk through the door, the excitement is palpable and our educators get asked dozens of times as they walk down the hallway “Are we cooking today!?” “Will it be delicious?” “Do we get to use knives?” “Can I be first today?!”
We’ve dubbed our cooking activities the “Chef-in-Training” program and the youth love being given the responsibility of working with real cooking knives, stove tops, and kitchen equipment. We teach the kids not only about cooking healthy meals for themselves but about how cooking can be a real career and the youth delight in talking about what it would be like to work in a kitchen as a chef or to take the recipes home and teach it to their parents.
Youth have been practicing their skills up to this point and learning to follow recipes. Pretty soon they will get to put their skills to the test by creating their own recipe, which is always a hoot! In this 3 part series, they learn about healthy smoothies, come up with their own recipes, and then put them to the test! The kids come up with amazing combinations and even more amazing names for their smoothies. It’s also a hilarious opportunity for our educators to get very literal and showcase the importance of clear instructions in recipe writing by throwing unpeeled bananas in that blender or teeny tiny amounts when they don’t give measurements! Hilarity always ensues.
It’s crazy to think that the year is already half over! But our programs continue on into the summer at our own 1.5 acre Urban Farm in Harambee! We welcome schools and day cares from all over the city to our farm for field trips and welcome about 15-20 neighborhood kids to the farm all summer long to work in our kids’ garden. This summer, with our new Community Kitchen nearly finished, we look forward to expanding our Chef-in-Training program and having the kids experience harvesting produce from the farm and taking it right into the kitchen to learn how to cook it up!
For more information about our Youth Education Programs, check out our webpage here (https://victorygardeninitiative.org/education/) or contact our Youth Programs Coordinator at Jay.firstname.lastname@example.org!