Elementary students spent Spring Break mashing bananas, scraping cucumber seeds, and most importantly having fun!
Less than a week after graduating, five newly-minted Master Food Volunteers sprang into action to help Extension with FAN Camp (Food and Nutrition Camp) at Barcroft Elementary School in Arlington. MFVs Dorothy, Pat, Caroline, Geri and I worked with FCS Agent Katie Strong to teach hands-on cooking and nutrition to more than 40 students from pre-K through 5th grade.
Over two days, students played nutrition games and made tasty, age-appropriate recipes. Younger students colored MyPlate placemats, which volunteers laminated so the kids could take them home. Then, students learned about food groups and what makes a balanced diet. They guessed at fruit and vegetable riddles and sat down to make some healthy dishes.
On Wednesday, two classes of older students made veggie wraps: radishes, carrots, salad greens, herbs, low-fat cheese, yogurt and avocado wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla. The wraps were a big hit with the kids; one student made the recipe for her family the very next day! The younger groups of 4- and 5-year-olds had a ball making banana pudding in a bag (lots of squishing of bananas, yogurt, applesauce and granola inside a zip-top plastic bag).
On Thursday, the older students made mango salsa from fresh mango, black beans, green pepper, green onion, cilantro, and lime. While the MFVs prepared some of the more difficult ingredients ahead of time, students pitched in and prepared most of the dish themselves. In small groups under watchful eyes of MFVs, students took turns chopping the green pepper and cilantro and learning safe knife skills. The salsa was devoured with corn chips. The younger students enjoyed making apple wraps: a whole-wheat tortilla with a mashed banana and sunflower seed butter spread, sprinkled with diced apples and then rolled up. They were a big hit!
With just a little supervision, the students could easily make the recipes at home.
One of the challenges facing the volunteers was how to make the activities fun for a large group of kids on their spring break. But they needn’t have worried: the kids had a great time talking about food and chopping, mixing and eating the delicious and nutritious dishes.
We plan to return for more cooking fun in July, and we look forward to spending more time with the young fledgling chefs.
–Lise Metzger, Master Food Volunteer