Now that school is out for the summer, kids no longer can enjoy the convenience of a cafeteria lunch. Working parents also might wonder how to ensure their children are eating healthy while they're away. The University of Illinois Extension has an answer: chef school.
Now that school is out for the summer, kids no longer can enjoy the convenience of a cafeteria lunch.
Working parents also might wonder how to ensure their children are eating healthy while they're away.
The University of Illinois Extension has an answer: chef school.
Rest assured, there are no pizza rolls or fish sticks involved. Instead, children ages 8-11 are using a variety of ingredients to create nutritious three-course meals.
"We encourage the kids to do everything," said Tara Agama, nutrition program assistant at U of I extension. "My biggest thing is having them learn how to eat healthy."
A group of 21 students turned out Monday for the first day of 4-H chef school at University United Methodist Church.
Children from Common Place in Peoria and Leaps & Bounds in Princeville will meet for five days to learn skills including food preparation and food safety. Each day, they will prepare breakfast and lunch while taking part in physical activities between meals.
The lunch menu Monday was upside-down pizza, seven-layer salad and peach fruit crisp.
The children split up into five groups at about 11 a.m., and station teachers divided the tasks. While some browned ground beef, others chopped vegetables and others fixed the salad.
"I think it teaches them family values and helping each other out," said station teacher Stacie Schaidle, 20. "It's a rewarding thing."
The program is more than a decade old and costs $7 per student for the week, according to Margaret Cover, nutrition and wellness educator at U of I extension. It runs in conjunction with the Summer Food Service Program, administered by the Illinois State Board of Education.
The second in a series of five-day sessions begins next week. The program continues for 10 weeks.
Agama said she focuses on teaching the students about proper servings of fruits and vegetables.
"I enjoy watching kids take a polite bite of spinach and actually really enjoy it," she said.
Marratia Reed keeps coming back. The 10-year-old from Peoria said the current session is her sixth overall.
"After we cook, we get to eat it," said Reed, who said she uses the skills she acquires at home. "I helped my sister make burgers and pizza."
After the pizza with the crust on top finished baking, the chefs sat down to enjoy their handiwork. The food met with overwhelming approval.
For Eliysheva Foster, 10, of Peoria, the class means much more than just a week of fun activities. She is hoping to put the techniques to professional use.
"I want to be a chef when I grow up," said Foster, whose goal is to open a vegetarian restaurant to value her religious beliefs.
Stephanie Gomes can be reached at (309) 686-3194 or email@example.com.