Delaware Kid Chefs Learn Prepare Tasty, Nutritious, and Budget-Friendly Meals
About a year ago Beverly Jackey, the community nutritionist for the Food Bank of Delaware, came up with a unique way of teaching kids to eat healthy. Jackey believed that children are more willing to try nutritious new foods when they are involved in preparing them. So Jackey and the Food Bank created a program called KID CHEF, which stands for Cooking Healthy Easy Food.
Jackey set up a curriculum to teach low-income children, ages 8-12, about healthy eating and how to prepare nutritious foods on their own. Using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition guidelines, and building on the Chefs Move to Schools program, part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, KID CHEF includes five, 60-minute classes with child-centered discussions and hands-on activities which include preparing a daily recipe from start to finish. Each child is given KID CHEF kitchen tools, a chef hat, and an apron to use throughout the program where they learn the step by step process of cooking nutritious and tasty dishes that are also budget friendly.
“At first, the kids can be a little apprehensive about the measuring and following recipes fearing they will do it wrong or make a mess,” Says Jackey, “but we stress that every chef makes mistakes and that some mistakes actually create the best recipes.” It’s about having fun and gaining experience; removing the fear of a hot stove by learning how to cook safely. And by the end of the series, according to Jackey, “we can see the improvement in the children’s cooking skills just by practicing and having more confidence.”
KID CHEF is presented by Jackey and Lisa Harkins, another nutritionist from the Food Bank, who set up the classes for children involved in afterschool and summer programs throughout Delaware. So far more than 300 children have experienced the “Kid Chef” series, and even inspired some to consider the culinary arts as a possible career. LJ from Wilmington called KID CHEF a lot of fun. “Now I want to be a chef when I grow up!”
Another benefit of KID CHEF is creating more quality family time at home. Parents receive a packet at the end of the course with the nutrition information of the recipes the children prepared. Parents gain confidence that their new family chef can be a big help in the kitchen while also practicing skills they will need as adults. Seantana from Wilmington made the healthy fried rice recipe she learned in class for her family. “It turned out great . . . they liked it because I made it myself.”