In order to get families to eat healthy foods, start with the kids.
That is why fourth and fifth graders at prepared chocolate strawberry French toast Wednesday.
By making delicious food, kids are motivated to eat it – but the kicker is that the recipe was made with ingredients from each of the food groups, which growing children need.
“When you feed your body, your brain works better,” said Marcia Rafig with Cooking Matters, a nonprofit organization that teaches families how to prepare healthy and affordable meals.
The cooking demonstration was presented by Cooking Matters as one of the lessons at the SCANA Energy Homework Center, a partnership with the school that enables students to complete their class assignments and learn proper study skills. SCANA Energy provides funds for two teachers, an assistant, snacks and student incentives.
Rafig taught the five basic food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy – and encouraged children to choose healthy ingredients. She also emphasized good hygiene, telling students to wash their hands thoroughly and sneeze into their sleeve to prevent the spread of illness.
A chef with Cooking Matters, Joan Peterson-Winn, showed students how to carry a kitchen knife safely by pointing it downward by your side.
Afterward, the kids donned white paper chef hats and aprons, and prepared the food. They sliced strawberries, cracked and beat eggs, measured cinnamon, dipped bread in batter and fried the toast.
“Many times children are the ones making the buying decisions in their homes,” Rafig said. “Children are bombarded along with adults from the food companies. Eat sugar, eat salt. Children [who] learn how to cook live longer. They are healthier.”
The lesson taught students how to measure and use cooking utensils properly, said teacher Kim Farmer.
“It incorporates real-world math. It teaches them how to eat healthy because a lot of times our children have to help out at home,” Farmer said.
Alexandra Benevides, a fifth grader, said she learned the food groups, as well as lessons about cooking.
“A great chef has to have an apron and hat,” she said. “A chef should never sneeze in their hands because they will make [someone else] sick.”