Basic food preparation skills are important for children to learn in order to eat well and maintain good health. Teaching kids how to choose, prepare, and cook healthy foods is a priority for the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program (NEP) and the 4-H Youth Development Program (YDP) in Sutter and Yuba Counties.
In FFY17, UC CalFresh partnered with the Sutter-Yuba 4-H to create a Teens-as-Teachers (TAT) program called “Cooking Academy.” The TAT model teaches teens to learn, lead, and serve their communities. The TAT program served three schools within two counties.
Using pre and post survey data of self-reported behaviors and attitudes, youth (age 6-11) participating in Cooking Academy reported:
- Increased willingness to try new foods
- Increased confidence in cooking ability
- Increase in basic cooking skills like chopping veggies and prepping ingredients
- Increased eating fruits and vegetables
- Decreased drinking soda
- Increased drinking water
- Purchased healthier food at home
- Increased knowledge of nutrition and healthy eating
- Increased self confidence
- Increased mentorship skills
- Increased public speaking skills
5 teens traveled to UC ANR (Davis) for a Statewide TAT Training. 7 teens participated in a full-day training hosted locally by the UC CalFresh and Sutter-Yuba 4-H. During these trainings teens learned basic skills of food preparation, selection, safety, and food science. They also learned how to work with elementary school students. Teens learned culinary techniques, behavior guidance strategies, and how to prepare each recipe featured in the Cooking Academy: Cooking 101 curriculum. Kuulei Moreno, an award-winning Chef and Culinary Arts Instructor attended both of the trainings as a special guest. Chef Kuulei provided inspiration and helpful tips for working in the kitchen. Each Cooking Academy consisted of seven weeks of cooking and food safety instruction. In the classes, youth (ages 6-11) had opportunities to learn basic nutrition information, try new foods, and learn how to safely prepare meals. Recipes used foods grown in the school’s edible garden.
Through hands-on food activities, youth learned about different taste combinations, their food preferences, and the many food choices available to them. They also tried new foods, built their cooking confidence, and increased their overall interest in cooking.
Some of the most important skills that teens reported learning from the TAT program included:
- Cooking, following rules and directions
- Being patient with younger students and getting their attention
- Learning how to handle younger kids
Teens also shared what they thought was the best part of the TAT program. These were:
- Teaching little kids to cook
- Spending time with younger students and teaching them ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Seeing the kids every Thursday and then sometimes seeing them in the community
"My son Damien is enrolled in the cooking program. He had a wonderful time in this program. It has inspired him to taste new foods and take an interest in cooking. He has come home from the program and explained to me about the food he has made, food preparation and all about cooking! Because of this program, he asked if he could cook our Thanksgiving dinner".
This story was submitted by CalFresh, a SNAP-Ed implementing agency. For more information, please contact Chelsey Slattery.