Through the Acorn app we’re able to support businesses that make our communities thrive. Everyday we learn more about our activities and how they enrich the wellbeing of children and families. Today, we meeting Kids Cook! to learn about cooking and nutrition for kids!
1. Please tell us a little about yourself and Kids Cook!
By trade I am a Registered Dietitian. Kids Cook! began in 2000 as a collaboration between New Mexico Public Health and Albuquerque Public Schools, after 8 years of supporting this program, Kids Cook! became its own 501(c)3. For 18 years Kids Cook! has been bringing healthy eating and active living programming to New Mexico schools and communities!
Our multi-cultural, hands-on cooking, nutrition education and physical activity program has reached over 40,000 low-income elementary and middle school students and their families in the Albuquerque metropolitan area, including Rio Rancho and Bernalillo. Our offices are in the heart of downtown Albuquerque at 102 Gold Avenue SW, however you will often find our staff at community events, collaborating with other agencies, and facilitating our program in elementary and middle schools around town.
2. What motivates you to do teach cookery and nutrition to kids?
I worked for NM Department of Health as a WIC program Manager for 25 years. It was extremely challenging to work with moms around healthy eating when they did not cook and grew up in households that did not cook. Kids Cook! creates a safe environment for students to explore food through cooking, promotes the importance of eating real food with variety and moderation, and sitting down together after preparing a meal to enjoy it as a class/family.
We have found that students are willing to accept new and varied foods when they are given the chance to prepare them themselves. Students often become the advocates for change at home; coming home with a recipe they just prepared wanting to repeat their experience at home with their family.
3. Tell us about a favorite moment teaching
Students love the hands on approach of our program, lending itself to hundreds of favorite teaching moments, often captured through student comments:
“When you prepare your own food, its different. Washing your own vegetables is like more than pulling off a wrapper. You earn your food”
“Could we steam the beans like we learned about steaming the spinach last time?”
When asked during our summary who would like to share what you learned today, a students shared “I learned how to follow directions”… The best part was watching the teacher in the back of the room, dancing with excitement.
4. You mention a gap in elementary health education, what does Kids Cook! bring to the table?
The mission of Kids Cook! is to improve the health of children and families by exposing them to a variety of culturally diverse healthy foods, providing the knowledge to prepare these foods and teaching the health benefits of daily exercise. We support families in adopting healthy eating, active living behaviors, provide experiential, hands-on learning in schools, at home and in community venues.
Our classes provide a comprehensive curriculum designed to reinforce skills that students are learning in the classroom, including math, science, history, social studies, art and music, geography, and language arts. We show students how the foods we create and eat are connected to all parts of their learning.
5. Do you have any new projects or exciting things we should know about? Tell us about your tasting program too!
Kids Cook! has developed and is now piloting a healthy eating, active living app that rewards users with free produce. Participants celebrate their healthy eating and active living by posting pictures in response to daily/weekly challenges. The more you post the more points you earn. Points can be redeemed at a local store or the Mobile Farmers Market for fresh produce or donated to a friend or school.
6. How can we learn more?
Volunteering is a great way to learn more about Kids Cook! while giving back to your community.
Discover Kids Cook! and thousands of other classes, workshops and fun days out on Acorn today via this link. Available for iOS and Android. Plus, it's free, and always will be.