“When students are allowed to grow, see, touch and prepare the food – they have a vested interest in eating their creations,” Chef Ann Butler said.
Last Friday, the fifth grade classes at Elizabeth Scott Elementary School got a heart-healthy lesson in food preparation from Butler and six chefs with Edible Education, a hands-on healthy cooking school.
Through a grant from the Wellpoint/Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation, Edible Education partnered with Fit4kids and together, have been providing the program to six area schools, including Scott.
During the cooking classes, the students learned how to prepare kale chips, the differences in six types of citrus, the science of dark chocolate, heart health, strawberries and seasonal foods. They also learned knife skills, easy food prep techniques for healthy meals and made three delicious healthy snacks.
Trying kale for the first time, Sean at Chef Pam’s table was brave enough to have a taste and liked the kale chips they made.
Joan Temple, principal at Scott, was a little nervous at first with the thoughts of bringing the hands-on program into the school but was relieved once the program was underway.
“The program has been great,” she said. “I was a little nervous at first but seeing the faces of these children [participating in the program] has been amazing. Every grade level has been absolutely fantastic and they all love the food.”
Temple said Edible Education has had six visits to the school and made a presentation during a PTA meeting. Students received copies of the recipes of the foods they prepared during the classes to take home.
Butler is a former high school Culinary Arts teacher and realized that even her culinary students were still drinking Red Bulls and eating pop tarts for breakfast. She wanted to change that and the only way to change the status quo and the health of today’s youth is to begin with teaching elementary students. She started Edible Education in 2010.
Butler said, “One in three children in the United States is overweight or obese. Introducing kids to healthy foods through a hands-on learning approach encourages and teaches them to make healthy choices. Edible Education’s goal is to have kids master 18 recipes by the time they enter middle school.”
The program also includes the creation of a learning garden and involves the total school population. Scott’s garden presently has four raised beds and currently is planted with cabbage and lettuce. Each of the grade levels are participating in the planting process and the cooking classes.
Edible Education has taught in 38 schools in the Central Virginia area and is comprised of 13 teaching chefs with backgrounds in childhood education, executive chef positions, pastry chef positions, holistic nutrition, and restaurant management.