Remember coming home from school to a tasty snack or supper prepared by Mom or Dad? For too many inner city children and their families, Mom or Dad is often away at work after school … and sometimes, there’s no healthy food in the cabinet.
Chips and soda, or a super-size burger at the local fast food restaurant might be all there is to eat for several days in a row. Unhealthy eating has resulted in the well-documented rise in obesity and its associated medical conditions among children and adults in our poorer communities.
Agape Community Center is successfully making a difference with its “Kid Kuisine” and “Teen Cuisine” programs. These twice-a–week programs are part of a comprehensive, age-appropriate approach to after-school programming that combines fun exercise, high- interest education about nutrition and food choices, and hands-on cooking two days each week.
On a typical Monday, after Tae Kwon Do, basketball, relay races, or yoga, many 7- to 13-year-olds gather in Agape’s kitchen and work together to create an easy-to-prepare, safe-for-a-kid and very, very tasty meal. They learn the basics of safe cooking (food handling safety, sanitation, how to correctly use a knife, beater, blender, etc.) and discover ways to substitute healthier ingredients.
As Kid Kuisine participants master the basics, these budding chefs graduate from quick, healthy microwave snacks to full suppers.
Teens participate in a similar program called Teen Cuisine; some teens enjoy cooking so much that they’ve prepared full, healthy meals at home for their siblings. Agape’s teens always enjoy a great meal, but also recognize the career potential. As a result, Agape’s paid food service apprenticeship positions are highly sought-after, as teens consider the restaurant or food service industry as a possible choice for post-high school career development.
What a great way to make life healthier in our community!