Meg Staires, 2016-2017 GardenCorps Member at Tri Cycle Farms
This Spring, I taught two sessions of Cooking Matters classes to kids in our community. Cooking Matters is a cooking course for kids that teaches them how food is grown and how to cook healthy food.
The first session was during Spring Break, when we had The Little Village kids at Tri Cycle for the week. The second session was held at Washington Plaza Apartments’ food bank. During the two courses, the kids designed their own trail mix, learned how to safely use knives, made healthy and colorful pizzas, and tried many foods for the first time (Dates! Hummus! Blackberries!). We talked a lot about what makes food good for our bodies, and how we can make some of our favorite comfort foods healthier.
We also talked a lot about how to eat healthy food without spending too much money. Each recipe was based around healthy items that are available at any grocery store for not too much money. It was important for me as a facilitator to give kids a template that they could adapt to their own, and their families’ specific budget and dietary needs.
All the kids received an apron, a wooden spoon, a cutting board, and a Cooking Matters book with recipes and activities, and all of this was at no cost to the kids! It was a great opportunity for me, as well; I got the experience of teaching kids from different walks of life how to cook great food, and it challenged me to find creative, fun, and inexpensive ways of engaging with each kid.
It also enabled me to work with Laura Wasson, a Nutrition major at UofA and volunteer at Tri Cycle; she had tons of great insights and ideas and was amazing with the kids! The cooking classes were a great way for Tri Cycle to reach out to more of our neighbors and find new ways to build community. We are all grateful to Arkansas Garden Corps for creating the opportunity to bring Cooking Matters to Tri Cycle Farms!