Food Lifestyle

Growing Great Schools Will Launch Spring Session of Kids’ Culinary Classes in West Hartford

Lindsay Perkins (left) and Rita Neal in the kitchen at Auer Farm. They will be teaching cooking classes on behalf of Growing Great Schools. Courtesy photo

Registration is open for Growing Great Schools’ ‘getCOOKing’ Culinary Classes in West Hartford. 

Lindsay Perkins (left) and Rita Neal in the kitchen at Auer Farm. They will be teaching cooking classes on behalf of Growing Great Schools. Courtesy photo

Local chefs Lindsay Perkins (left) and Rita Neal will be teaching another session of kids’ cooking classes on behalf of Growing Great Schools. Courtesy photo


Local non-profit Growing Great Schools (GGS) is on a mission to create a culture of wellness. In an effort to improve the health of kids the organization is offering spring sessions of getCOOKing, their healthy cooking classes for kids and teens where they get hands-on opportunities to feel, taste and experiment with healthy, local food.

In today’s fast-paced, processed food world many children grow up without understanding where their food comes from or what a healthy, balanced, minimally processed meal looks like. GGS wants kids to understand where and how their food is grown, why local, seasonal food is beneficial, how to read food labels and decipher food advertising and the multiple benefits of eating whole foods. By teaching children about healthy food at an early age, GGS hopes to establish the importance of healthy food for their bodies and the planet.

“Cooking is one of the most important life skills children can learn to help them live a healthier life,” says Muniba Masood, president of Growing Great Schools. “The response we’ve had to the program from both parents and children has been incredibly positive. Kids are trying new foods that their parents never dreamed they’d eat. Many parents have reported that their kids are even taking the lead on preparing dinner to show their families what they’ve learned.”

The one-hour classes are offered as a four-week series beginning the week of April 18. The classes schedule is:

  • Mandell JCC after school on Mondays for 5-7 year olds and 8-11 year olds.
  • Mandell JCC middle school class on Thursdays with an additional 30 minutes of boot camp led by a JCC fitness instructor.
  • Parent/Child class offered at ShopRite on Saturday mornings.

Both locations have generously donated their kitchen spaces. Students will come home with recipes, as well as videos that can be shared with the entire family to help replicate the recipes they have created in class.

“We know that when kids are involved in the process of preparing their food, they are more likely to try it,” says chef educator Rita Neal. “Exposing kids to healthy foods establishes lifelong habits that contribute to physical and emotional health. And working in the kitchen preparing food is fun.”

Since the inception of Growing Great Schools, the organization has been committed to an equitable distribution of resources between all children. In an effort to allow more students to benefit from getCOOKing GGS is underwriting spring programs for students at West Hartford Public Schools elementary and pre-kindergarten classes at Smith STEM School and Charter Oak School. GGS also provided getCOOKing classes for more than 250 preschoolers at Wintonbury Magnet School in Bloomfield.

Register for classes at www.growinggreatschools.org.  Space is limited so please register early to guarantee your child’s spot in class.

Growing Great Schools inspires communities to create a culture of wellness by connecting food, health and the environment.  The vision of Growing Great Schools is to empower students and their families to become active participants in their nutritional and physical health while caring for the planet.

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