Written by Jesula Charles, 23 years old from Miami, FL serving on The Comcast NBCUniversal Team at Bakersville Elementary School.
I love to cook, share and learn new recipe ideas and eat. So, when offered the opportunity to lead an after school kids cooking class, I eagerly jumped on board and brought my creative and spunky fellow bulldog team member Melissa Barbie along for the ride! This was our first time leading a cooking class and we had much to live up to with our current Program Manager being the former head chef of the class the previous year. Since then, we have dove into the task head on and aren’t afraid to use all the resources and support from our team, school staff and opinionated students to ensure the success of the class. Melissa and I have varied taste when it comes to food; fruits, vegetables and other colorful organic foods make her taste buds burst while hearty meat, rice, beans and everything Caribbean has always decorated my dining room table. This food contrast and collaboration has made the class an experiment and adventure!
Every Wednesday afternoon, we have been granted the opportunity to help students think outside the box when it comes to nutrition and cooking by helping them recreate their daily snacks and meals with less sugar, carbohydrates and more color. In addition, responsibility, efficiency, detail, ownership and a realistic view on school lessons are just a few qualities we want students to take away from the hour and fifteen minute class that can be transferred to home life.
Every class opens up with a discussion on the recipe, serving sizes, ingredients and possible snack and meal substitutions. Students have the opportunity to ask questions, debunk myths and share daily eating habits with the class. Throughout the lessons, students are encouraged to write down steps in their personal books and bring home projects to share their learning with family and friends. No worries, the class is not an intense iron chef course. However, students are given numerous opportunities to contribute to lessons and participate in activities that support past lessons with nutrition and kitchen word searches and cross word puzzles, restaurant and menu competitions and fear factor food challenges.
Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed in our class. After winning the most creative menu competitions, one of our future chefs helped design and set up a breakfast and fruit smoothie session. She presented her creative menu to the class and now isn’t hesitant to share her ideas! Throughout this year, the class has delved into apple volcanoes, fruit kabobs, tacos, homemade play dough, ants on a log and so much more! I am proud to know that my students aren’t scared to be healthy and active. I hope this take charge food mentality continues as summer comes and my students grow older.