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Healthy Cooking Club

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Overview

Cooking with kids is a great way to educate them about good nutrition, what’s in season, planning and preparing meals, and reading food labels. It can encourage them to eat healthy foods, especially ones they may normally refuse to try. Expand their horizons by getting students in the kitchen through a healthy cooking club!

Take Action

  • Discuss with your school administration your ideas for a healthy cooking club. Receive their approval for the club and brainstorm opportunities for funding.
  • Host a healthy fundraiser to raise funds for your healthy cooking club.
  • Answer the following Who, What, Where, When questions:
    • Who: Will the club be open to all grade levels? What about parents? How many students can participate in the club?
    • What: What topics will your club focus on? For example, Healthy Cooking During the Holidays, Healthy Breakfast on the Go, Healthy After School Snacks, Healthy & Yummy Desserts, etc. What specific cooking skills will you highlight (i.e. peeling, chopping, proper mixing, etc.)?
    • Where: Where will the cooking club will take place? Ideally, there should be enough table space for students to work, as well as access to a refrigerator and oven.
    • When: When will your club meet? After school? In the evening? Once per week for six weeks?
  • Take inventory of current cooking equipment, and outline additional supply needs. Consider:
    • Doing a kitchen utensils drive at school to receive donated items. Advertise the drive in the school newsletter, at the library and local gym, in the newspaper and on your school marquee.
    • Asking local restaurants if they would be willing to donate equipment.
    • Checking out garage sales and thrift stores for gently used items.
  • If your school has a school garden, collaborate with the garden club, and use whatever fresh fruits and vegetables are available.
  • Ask local food pantries, grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants if they would be willing to donate groceries or incentives such as gift cards.
  • Partner with growers/sellers at farmers markets to donate what’s left over to the cooking club. You might have bruised apples or less than fresh zucchini, but they are still usable and delicious! Apples can be made into applesauce and zucchini into zucchini bread.
  • Don’t have access to a kitchen? Start a Food Art Cooking Club!

Tips

If working with younger students, ask high school students to volunteer for service learning credits. This is a great way for high school students to give back and be role models for healthy eating.

Review food safety guidelines, and take note of participant food allergies to ensure a safe cooking environment.

Keep recipes simple. Cooking usually takes longer with kids since they need clear instructions and assistance.

Incorporate field trips; in lieu of a cooking session, take a tour of a professional kitchen and ask if a chef demo is available.

Ask parents and chefs to come in to host a session. Topics could include focusing on a particular ethnic food or sharing their favorite healthy recipe.

If working with older students, incorporate concepts of how to prepare meals on a budget. Review how to shop sales, use coupons, etc.

Engage volunteers by asking them to lead and supervise the cooking club or ask for donations of equipment and/or food from local restaurants, food pantries, grocery stores and bakeries.

Host a cooking competition. If possible, split the group into at least two teams and have a cook-off.