With inflation taking over the Nation and the food supply chain still unstable, how do you teach your children to be nutritionally savvy and establish culinary creativity?
Thankfully, the collaborative efforts of compassionate educators and urban nutritionists are helping students’ inspiration sprout as they learn about agriculture and food science.
Seventh and 8th graders at Our Lady of Trust Catholic Academy, in partnership with Cornell University, Harvest NY and 4 H, kicked off their vegetable garden planting initiative on Friday, June 3rd, outside of their school, located at 1696 Canarsie Road.
With 10 large planters on hand, along with rich soil and tools to exercise their green thumbs, students planted tomatoes, onions, basil, parsley and collard greens.
Dr. Tashara M. Leak (Assistant Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University), in collaboration with New York State 4-H and Cornell University Cooperative Extension-New York City (CUCE-NYC), developed a 12-week, $1 million culturally inclusive 4-H afterschool club called the Advanced Cooking Education (ACE) program.
“The 34 students who took part in this program had extensive nutrition and cultural learning experiences for 12 weeks,” Leak said. “But we also exposed them to different careers in the food and nutrition industries as well, helping them get ready to apply for jobs in the culinary or nutrition industries. We even had a public speaking competition because nowadays students need to make presentations and have unique ‘resumes’ when they apply for high school and college. This program gives them some accolades to have pride in.”
Leak also said professional chefs lent their time to the program last fall, teaching students how to cook different recipes. Students were even given bags of food to take home each week and were tasked with creating unique cuisines and sharing them with family.
Urban Garden Specialist with Cornell University Kwesi Joseph also assisted students at the planting event – teaching them how to prepare and fluff the soil before sowing seeds.
“There’s a method to planting with care and there’s a power that comes with growing your own food,” Joseph told the Canarsie Courier.
Julianna, one of the students, told the Canarsie Courier, “The ACE program helped me to cook dishes I never heard of and plant ingredients at our school.”
While program officials hope students find budding success in their nutritional endeavors, the skills they’ve honed will be useful no matter where their paths may lead them.