Update on Project Aspire’s Culinary Education Classes
Beginning in January 2010, The Palette Fund and Natural Gourmet Institute in partnership with Touro College’s Project Inspire will provide classroom nutrition lessons to all eight Prekindergarten to Grade 2 classes at PS 197 in Harlem.
Under the leadership of our Director of Nutrition and Wellness, Chef Ruth Fehr, guided by Dr. Annemarie Colbin, PhD (Founder of the Natural Gourmet Institute and a member of Palette’s Nutrition & Wellness Advisory Committee) a professional culinary educator/chef will be assigned to one of each of the eight classes on the third Wednesday of each month beginning at 9:00 a.m. and lasting for 45 minutes.
Classroom lessons will include a discussion about culinary literacy: what is food, how it is grown, where is it grown, what is good for (what effect it has on our body) and most importantly how to turn it into delicious healthy dishes. The emphasis will be in introducing kids to a variety of seasonal fruits, vegetables and grains. The lesson will include demonstration and hands-on food preparation, which the kids will be encouraged to sample. The lesson will culminate with distribution of take-home printed recipes for the students to share with their families.
Additionally, a parent participation activity, “Mommy and Me Nutrition Night,” will be held quarterly—the first in March and the next in June—at which time parents will discuss the impact of the program on their family’s nutritional behavior as well as be provided to participate in hands-on food preparation activities in the school cafeteria. Qualitative, and observational data will be collected by Project Aspire staff to measure program effectiveness.
EPTA is the electronic parent outreach component of Project Aspire. Staff has been compiling email and home addresses of parents of Project Aspire students this fall. Parents have already received copies of the Thanksgiving recipes prepared by the culinary educators and demonstrated to the students at the Thanksgiving Event on November 19. Feedback is very positive. In fact, many parents indicated that they would try the Thanksgiving side dishes at home. EPTA will contact parents monthly to keep them informed of Project Aspire/The Palette Fund activities at P.S. 197 and to invite them, with the school’s permission, to participate in special events. “Mommy and Me Nutrition Night” events will be highlighted well in advance of the March and June dates to encourage as many parents as possible to attend and participate.
Each monthly classroom nutrition lesson will include a food preparation hands-on demonstration/student participation food preparation activity. The students will be provided with recipes of the dishes prepared, which they will collect in a personal “cookbook.” Mr. Timothy Bellavia, creative consultant to Project Aspire, will work with the culinary educators and students in constructing the students’ cookbooks, which will be completed at the end of the school year. The students will be able to share their cookbooks, which will also include the Food Pyramid and other helpful nutrition facts and tips, with their families.