Hands-on experience learning to cook healthy foods are available to children in West Hartford and the surrounding community through the Growing Great Schools ‘getCOOKing’ program.
By Ronni Newton
A series of classes designed to teach children to prepare and eat healthy foods are set to begin on October 17 at two locations in West Hartford and Auerfarm in Bloomfield.
West Hartford-based non-profit Growing Great Schools (GGS) is offering the latest “getCOOKing” series to give kids from preschool through middle school “hands-on opportunities to feel, taste and experiment with healthy, local food,” the organization announced in a news release.
The mission of GGS is to create a culture of wellness and to help children understand what is in the food that they eat, and the difference between processed vs. whole foods. “Cooking is a fundamental life skill children can learn to help them live healthier lives,” GGS Executive Director Susan Kamin said in the release. “Parents, teachers and students have told us that getCOOKing gets kids excited about trying healthy foods and engages them in learning about the nutritional value of foods and where foods come from.”
Students will also learn what’s different about eating local, seasonal foods, and will learn how to read food labels and understand food advertising.
Experienced culinary professionals Rita Neal and Lindsay Perkins will teach the classes.
Neal, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is also a nutritionist with more than 20 years experience in the food industry as a restaurant chef, private chef, and chef/manager at Whole Foods Market. She is currently the owner of Cook Happy, which teaches cooking classes to children, teens, and adults.
Perkins is a graduate of Connecticut Culinary Institute’s Pastry and Baking program and has more than 10 years experience at Truffles Bakery in Farmington. She is the founder of the custom cupcakes and party planning company Confetti Cupcakes, and co-director of Camp KO Culinary Camp.
“We know that when kids are involved in the process of preparing their food, they are more likely to try it,” Neal said in the release. “Exposing kids to healthy foods establishes lifelong habits that contribute to physical and emotional health. And working in the kitchen preparing food is fun.”
The five-week getCOOKing series will begin the week of Oct. 17 at Cookshop Plus in West Hartford Center, Camp KO at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, and at the Auerfarm 4-H Education Center in Bloomfield. Students will attend classes at a particular location based on their age or grade. According to GGS, all spaces have been generously donated to the non-profit for use by the program.
Classes for 3-4 year-olds will be held at Cookshop Plus on Tuesday mornings from 10:15 – 11 a.m. Classes for 5-7 year-olds will be at Cookshop Plus on Tuesday afternoons from 4 – 4:45 p.m. Classes for kids ages 8-11 are at Auerfarm on Wednesday’s from 3:30 – 5 p.m., and classes for middle schoolers, grades 6-8, are at Kingswood Oxford on Wednesdays from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Students at all levels will receive recipes as well as videos to share with their families and help them recreate the recipes that the children made in class.
“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,” the release states.
For more information or to register visit www.growinggreatschools.org. GGS advises that space is limited so early registration is encouraged.
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