Slow Food partners with Head Start in family cooking class

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

With the idea of getting kids and their parents cooking together, Slow Food Foothills “Slow Food in Schools” program recently partnered with the Polk County Head Start to offer a hands-on cooking class.

This interactive class was held at the cooperative extension demonstration kitchen in Columbus on Tuesday, April 9.

Jimmi Buell, FCS Agent with the Polk County Cooperative Extension Service instructed the parents in preparing a home cooked meal of chicken fingers, mashed potatoes and green beans.

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While peeling potatoes for the meal, the adults got a comparison of the difference in the cost, time required and nutritional value of the home cooked meal versus picking up a fast food equivalent, as well as a number of helpful hints regarding planning meals, grocery shopping tips and meal items.

Meanwhile the preschoolers and some of their older siblings worked with Tamara Black from Polk County Head Start and a number of Slow Food in Schools volunteers to prepare “vegeta-people” salads and strawberry shortcake for dessert.

The children were shown a sample of a salad made to look like a smiling face, and were told that their job was to create a special salad for their parents and then make one for themselves. They were given a wide variety of fresh vegetable and fruit ingredients to create their salads.

With the enthusiasm and imagination of children, salad masterpieces began to appear.
While many of the children were initially reluctant to try the fresh fruits and vegetables, in a short time there were as many cherry tomato halves and cucumber slices being snacked on as being used in the salads.

Once they had finished their parent’s salads, they eagerly started salads for themselves and all of the volunteers. While all of the plates were labeled with the “artist’s” name, each was unique enough to be easily identified by the child who created it.

Chairperson for the Slow Food in Schools program, Barb Raymond said, “We find this repeatedly, with children of all ages. If you get them involved in the process of preparing food, they will happily eat it without any encouragement from an adult.”

While one group of children created their salads, others chopped fresh strawberries with the precision of budding surgeons.

When dinner was ready and the children proudly presented their parents with the hand-made salads, families and volunteers all sat down to enjoy a wonderful meal and a lot of happy chatter as the kids told their parents about their cooking adventures. At the end of the evening, families left with some new skills, helpful information and happy children.

Slow Food Foothills second annual fund raiser will be held at Overmountain Winery on Sunday, May 19.

Proceeds from this fund raiser will be used to support programs like children’s cooking classes.