By: Kristen Pinto
Want to know the secret to getting kids to eat their vegetables? Cheese. Today, I told the kids at the Little Friends for Peace (LFFP) Youth Development program at the Perry School Community Center that we would be making chips. Instead of artificial-orange-dusted cheddar chips, we made parmesan-sprinkled kale chips. And they were a success!
Thanks to the Public Service Grant Commission, I have had the opportunity to lead weekly cooking and nutrition lessons at the LFFP youth program. Every Tuesday, we cook a healthy dish and talk about an issue related to the food system and/or food culture. For example, when we talked about where our food comes from in the world, we made a salad full of ingredients that originated elsewhere. Each kid was given a mason jar, which they shook like crazy, to make salad dressing. It was entertaining to see their noses scrunch up when they caught a whiff of the balsamic vinegar in it.
The PSGC grant has helped introduce the kids to new foods and cultures. From millet to feta to kiwi, we have tried a variety of interesting flavors! So far, we have also talked about dishes from Chile, France, and India.
With help from the PSGC, I have been able to integrate physical health into Little Friends for Peace’s social-emotional health program. After becoming certified by The Cookbook Project as a Food Literacy Educator, I worked with Little Friends for Peace to bring a fun nutrition curriculum to a community with which they serve. A goal of the program is to foster a holistic sense of wellness and practice teamwork by enabling the kids to work in small groups to prepare a healthy snack or meal. We seek to encourage the kids to try healthier options and adopt them into their diet. Expanding diet diversity and sparking an interest in the food system at a young age, we hope this program will ignite a curiosity for cooking and eating healthfully.
Each week I learn a bit more about what they like to eat. Over the past few months, cucumbers, coconut, and cheese have brought much excitement to the kitchen. I look forward to the next four months. We have the history of chocolate, gardening, a community meal, and more food cultures in our future!
For more information about The Cookbook Project: www.thecookbookproject.org
For more information about Little Friends for Peace: www.lffp.org