Tonia Mayfield read the ingredients for the dipping sauce that accompanied Trees In A Broccoli Forrest:
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt,
1/4 cup light sour cream,
2 teaspoons of honey,
2 teaspoons of spicy brown mustard.
"It doesn't seem like it would be good," she said.
Lynn Hendrix serves up a plate of broccoli, melon and strawberries for her two children Jessie, a second-grader at Grovetown Elementary School, and Clayton, age 1. The three were at a cooking class at the school Tuesday night sponsored by the Columbia County School System Nutrition Services to teach parents and children about good nutrition.
Photo by Melissa Hall
After eating a plate of the carrots and broccoli with the sauce, and hearing the description, second grader Katie Humphrey's eyes widened, her mouth dropped open in disbelief.
"And you ate it all!," Mayfield said, laughing.
Katie admitted, "It was fabulous."
The two were among about 30 participants in a cooking class Tuesday night at Grovetown Elementary School, the final session of a four week series to teach good nutrition to parents and children.
The Columbia County School System's Nutrition Services sponsored the interactive, hands-on cooking classes which were offered to parents free of charge.
The idea for the program was cooked up last year when Max Howard, a Emmy Award winning actor and star of the Max B. Nimble television series, presented his Maximum Nutrition Show for the children at the school.
The series opened this year with Howard presenting the same program for the parents. The 30-minute show containing funny stories and tricks teaches audiences the importance of good nutrition.
"I think it helps a lot of children to eat more healthy food," said Lidia Garcia, who has three children who attend Grovetown Elementary School. "They think they are playing with their food, but they are really eating."
The second class of the series was Making Stone Soup. In the class parents made Stone Soup or gazpacho - a tomato and vegetable soup traditionally served cold, based on the recipe from the famous children's book of the same name.
"I didn't know you could eat cold soup," said Victoria Owings, who attended all but one of the sessions. "And with all the vegetables, it was so healthy. I did end up putting mine in the microwave."
Bread in a Bag was the third cooking series - a no mess, no fuss lesson on how to make bread in a bag without using bowls or mixers.
Grovetown Elementary's cafeteria manager Leslie Griffin helped to organize the meetings and Claudie Mazul, the cafeteria manager at Lakeside High School, served as the Spanish interpreter for the classes. All of the recipes were also printed in Spanish.
"We really want everything to be inclusive and welcoming," project coordinator Jo Marie Lombard said. "If people can understand each other better, even by breaking bread together, then it will be a better community."
Children were invited to attend the final class which focused on nutritious snacks, such as fruit smoothies, Trees in a Broccoli Forrest, Carrot and Raisin Sunshine Salad and Apple Carousel.
"We decided to open it up to the kids," Lombard said. "If we are teaching nutrition to the parents, we want the kids to try it here. Then they can say, 'Remember when we made that carrot salad?,' and they can recreate it at home."
The cooking demonstrations have attracted about 30 parents to each session, said school Principal Joan Moore. And involving parents in the school has been one added benefit of the program.
"The group has grown pretty close, since we generally have the same people showing up, including one father and one grandfather," Moore said. "Through other parent conferences we plan to talk to parents about how to help with test scores, how to help their child with homework and how to deal with bullying. What we are trying to do is get this information out so parents will become more involved in the school."
Last spring Grovetown and North Harlem fifth graders saw Howard's show. Lombard, who is also using it as the subject of her masters' thesis, tested the children and found they had a minimal knowledge of nutrition prior to participating in the show. Posts test given immediately after the presentation and two weeks later showed pupils had retained what they learned, even when the test was given a third time.
Columbia County's School Nutrition Program brought Max's Maximum Nutrition Show to all elementary school pupils last month, teaching the importance of good nutrition, and teaching pupils how to choose a diet that is low in fat, sugar and salt and high in grain, fruits and vegetables.
The show has yielded some funny anecdotes, Moore said.
"A grandmother was driving her granddaughter home and asked the child if she wanted a piece of cake. She said, 'Only one; moderation is the word."'
These kinds of stories show children are learning and remembering, a goal educators strive for every day, Moore said.
"We feel like if they can generalize this information from home to school, then they have learned it," Moore said "They are relating it with real life experiences to improve learning and retention. It's been a wonderful experience. The participants are asking for more lessons. We may be starting a tradition here."
Lombard said demand has been so great that she plans on having other sessions at the school in November and December and will look at offering the series again in the spring.
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