We were excited to find out that Highlands Family Success Center (HFSC) in West Milford, NJ has taken on the #ChopChopCookingClub Challenge. The families are HFSC are doing one cooking challenge a month at Family Time. We’re excited to follow the progress of the class and see the new skills they are learning.
The Center’s Nutrition & Food Service Manager Jennifer Salt answered a few questions about how she got the Center involved with the Cooking Club and how they are using it to learn cooking skills.
ChopChop: How did you hear about the ChopChop Cooking Club?
Jennifer: I was at the National Farm to School Conference in Madison, WI, this summer and received a complimentary copy of the Chop Chop magazine. When I returned to the office, I researched the website and was inspired by the Cooking Club. It seemed like a natural fit to use it as a curriculum for the Family Time at the Highlands Family Success Center.
ChopChop: What is Family Time? What kind of skills are kids learning in the Family Time class, and why did you choose to add these cooking challenges?
Jennifer: Family Time is every Friday and is time set specifically to spend together as a family exploring and creating each week. Besides cooking club, there are art projects, science, and nature activities. The Family Success Center model is strength based and focuses on building the skills of the family as a whole.
ChopChop: What are the reactions of the kids at the center?
Jennifer: So far, the reactions have been great! One child asks me every time I see her what we are cooking next. We added spinach to the smoothies on the first challenge and had a child eating it raw who always claimed to hate spinach. Another was loving the banana in the smoothies although she won’t eat them by themselves. For the scrambled eggs, we had a very appreciate mother because her children are very picky eaters, but in the large group they were positively influenced by their peers to try what they made…and ended up eating it all!
ChopChop: What challenges have you done so far?
Jennifer: So far we have done the Smoothie and Scrambled Egg challenges. We do not have a stove at the center so we are working with an induction burner and may need to borrow some kitchen space if the program continues to grow. We could possibly add a snack time program to a weekday to incorporate the additional challenges available on the website.
ChopChop: Why do you think getting kids cooking is important?
Jennifer: As a nutrition manager at a Head Start program, I cannot underemphasize the importance of having children involved in meal planning and prepping. When children are able to help choose what is for dinner and/or assist in cooking, they are much more likely to eat the foods. This is a great way to introduce healthy foods and encourage healthy habits at an early age. We have gardens at some of our sites and the children that are able to grow their own food and partake in creating a meal have demonstrated greater interest in eating vegetables.
Know a classroom or after school program that’s looking for new skills and activities? Visit http://www.chopchopcookingclub.org/ for 13 recipes and lessons that are fun and delicious.