Developing Pottstown’s Palates with Virtual Cooking Classes
During the 2020-2021 school year, being an educator meant making pivot after pivot to create a learning environment conducive to impacting students’ mental and physical wellness. With hybrid and distance learning in effect, schools have had fewer chances to engage students and families collectively, in spite of the growing need for such opportunities. Creating a platform to engage with families during distance education is not a simple process. It requires creativity, dedicated educators, and a strong team to provide needed resources while promoting healthy habits along the way.
Shelby Iezzi, the District Wellness Coordinator of the Pottstown School District in Pottstown, Pennsylvania has done just that, as she has worked to create a schedule of engaging, interactive activities to improve the health of students and families within the district. Thanks to a school grant from Action for Healthy Kids, Shelby recently worked with her team to conduct “Virtually Cooking,” a club for 15 families at Lincoln Elementary School. The cooking club focused on awareness of how the food we consume can affect our state of mind if we practice mindfulness while eating. Sessions were designed as an opportunity to learn valuable cooking skills and exciting recipes while enjoying fun, hands-on activities to expand and inspire a love for “real/whole” foods.
In preparation for the virtual club, Shelby, over the course of a few evenings, dedicated her time to secure and deliver supplies for participating families to make their first recipe: tzatziki sauce, a Greek-inspired cucumber yogurt sauce. The package she delivered included food items such as Greek yogurt, cucumbers and fresh dill, in addition to a child’s chef set to help kids get in on the action.
The tzatziki event was a success, with kids and parents alike fully engaged with the preparation process and intrigued by what was a brand new taste for many participants. Families were eager to share their excitement and support with Shelby’s team after the session.
Said one parent, “This program was very insightful and fun during the pandemic. Bringing a virtual cooking class to the kids was genius! It seems like all of the students were truly engaged, and my son was very excited to learn how to make new things to eat. I also appreciated that the supplies were brought to us. I hope Lincoln keeps this program around!”
Another parent added, “This was a wonderful activity to bond with my daughter through something we both love: cooking. Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity. Katelynn and I are planning a dinner for our family this weekend. She wants to show her family her new skill!”
Learning their way around the kitchen and preparing meals will help students become more invested in what they eat. Beyond the practical skills, student also gain confidence by completing the final product, making their own meals, and being part of planning the dinnertime menu. Thank you to Shelby and her team for working to inspire a passion for healthy and mindful eating!
This grant was made possible with funding from Saputo.