Kids Cooking and Baking Schools Promote Lifelong Health
Less than 10% of U.S. children, including children in North Dakota, eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption is linked with preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The good news is that research shows that hands on culinary nutrition education and gardening activities can improve skills and increase the intake of fruits and vegetables.
To encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as all other foods that fit into a healthful diet, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson led the development of a kids' cooking school.
The On the Move cooking and baking schools provide hands-on lessons that can be delivered in various settings including face-to-face, virtual, camps or after-school programs. Since the program was launched, more than 1,800 children have participated in the multi-session program, through which they gained knowledge about nutrition, food safety and health concepts. Topics include reading recipes, measuring ingredients, safe food handling, meal planning, and hands-on cooking and baking.
Surveys show the cooking and baking schools are making an impact:
• 79% of participants rated themselves as confident in following recipes.
• 74% have told others about the program.
• 76% are eating more fruit.
• 66% are eating more vegetables.
• 54% are eating more whole grains.
Feedback from parents has been positive.
“Often, parents were involved as the children learned about healthful food preparation,” says Garden-Robinson. “Parents sent emails about the increased skills and confidence they observed as their children learned valuable life skills.”
Through follow-up surveys, parents indicated that their children had applied the skills they learned:
• 79% talked about what they learned in cooking school.
• 64% were offering help more often with food preparation.
• 59% were independently preparing food at home.
• 55% were confidently using kitchen equipment at home.
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