by Robert Singer, Program Coordinator
I love to see the kids we serve make deep connections to the food they eat. Not only does it help them to create lifelong healthy habits, it encourages them to ask questions about the world around them. Last week, we served salads with crumbled falafel (ground chickpea patties) and locally sourced chicken during our after-school meals, and it had the students asking a lot of questions. One of our volunteers explained that falafel is Middle Eastern, and they discussed the various spices in the recipe. Then we chatted about the chicken, which was raised by a local farmer.
We strive to provide opportunities like these for kids to get curious and ask questions about where their food comes from and how it’s made.
That’s why we established our Food Explorers Club, a 10-week hands-on curriculum with a focus on experiential, interdisciplinary learning through growing, cooking, and trying new foods.
The Food Explorers curriculum is built on a series of standards we wrote with a team of trained educators. We teach students about nutrition, culinary skills and cooking, community, and the journey of food from farm to fork. These standards formed the basis of the Four Food Foundations:
Food is Fun
Food is from the Earth
Food is Fuel
Food is for Sharing
We recently applied two of these foundations, Food is Fun and Food is for Sharing while making guacamole as a group. We learned about the five different tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami) as we sampled each raw ingredient including tomatoes, avocados, and red onion. We then combined them all to make guacamole from scratch: a fun and messy project! It was a reminder that food is fun, even when we’re cleaning avocado off our shirts.
We hope that by giving students the opportunity to experience food in a variety of ways, we can create a positive impact on their choices as they grow older.